Letter from the Partners
Dear Friends of MN:
In 2014, Jonathan, Steven and I spent our Saturdays sitting on Steven’s couch in Harlem listening to Nas’ Illmatic and mapping out the strategic plan for what would become our architecture company. Like the album, we aspired to shift our industry and create a firm that not only designed forward-thinking, exceptional spaces, but also had a business model that would transform the practice of architecture by addressing the root of our industry’s problem: that access to both excellent architecture and its design was an exclusive pursuit.
We were united by a photo of Rock Steady Crew battle dancing in front of Lincoln Center by Martha Cooper, circa 1981. It captured for us what was quintessential New York City: diverse communities and cultures creating spaces for themselves, and we aspired to create architecture that would welcome more to do the same. To accomplish this, we set out to build a team as diverse as NYC, which meant giving more people not only an opportunity to enter the profession and survive, but thrive. This commitment became the foundation of MN’s core values.
When determining the types of work we wanted to pursue, we chose not to limit ourselves to a particular typology or scale, as creating welcoming spaces should span all. Rather, we wanted to work with clients who were connoisseurs of their industries and could challenge the status quo. Since the built environment is imbued with the values of those behind it, we would only work with those who shared ours and could become co-conspirators.
To date, alongside our Practice Director, Anya, we have completed more than 60 built projects that span hospitality, retail, commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential categories. We have garnered for our clients accolades that include an AIANY Design Award, nine Michelin stars, and other acclaim, cultivating deep, meaningful relationships within our community along the way.
Yet what we are the most proud of is that all of this was achieved by a full-time team of 25 that is as diverse as our beloved city and also half women, represented across every level of seniority. We have had nearly no turnover and have done no layoffs since launch. This is by design, and as we scale, cross oceans, break into new areas, and partner with our next set of collaborators, we want to share what we have been learning, hoping to find and inspire more co-conspirators along the way.
On the occasion of our eighth anniversary, sharing that moving forward we will go by our full name, Modellus Novus, Latin for “the new model,” an ethos we are constantly pursuing as we aim to reshape what excellence in architecture means. Above all, we seek to collaborate and share learnings with those who are aligned with this vision. If this is you, please check out our new site and drop us a line. We want to transform our industry together.
Respectfully and one,
Preeti, Jonathan, Steven, Anya
Partners, Modellus Novus
March 2, 2023
Modellus Novus is an architecture firm creating spaces that shape and define culture. Our New York City-based team is led by individuals united not only by our diverse backgrounds and perspectives, but an optimistic commitment to designing spaces for the many.
MN seeks to redefine access to exceptional design. From the most public cultural institutions to private homes, our work prioritizes the experience of all users of a space. These excellent experiences are driven by precise, pragmatic and daring decisions — regardless of project size or type.
Diverse perspectives are pivotal to our work, and we partner with clients who share our belief that great design should not be elusive nor exclusive. For us, architecture is a collaborative effort between those who create and those who experience. We design for where those moments meet.
Our clients are our co-conspirators, and we truly partner with them, treating each other like people. Our goal is to arrive at a poetic consensus through a shared and continuous dialogue with the range of voices on a given project. We consider coming to consensus—with everyone’s enthusiasm and optimism intact—to be an act of inclusion which reflects the shared intelligence of people working toward the same goal. It is our job to make this consensus both seen and felt, full of surprise and beauty.
At the end of the day, we want our clients to have liked working with us, liking us as people after our projects are over. The design and building process can be messy, but our work is not. Throughout all architectural phases, we establish congenial working relationships by subjugating exclusivity and ego, emphasizing clear lines of communication and respectful access to one another.
Bidding & Negotiation
The 25-plus person team and its leadership are representative of the social fabric of New York City itself: We are global in our perspective, hailing from 11 countries and four continents, and our team is more than half women, across all levels of seniority.
We care deeply about reconstructing the practice of architecture, creating an environment where people from all backgrounds, perspectives and geographies can not only enter but thrive.