Anya Sirota is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning and the ArcPrep High School Program Director. Her interdisciplinary research broadly focuses on contemporary cultural production and its relationship to architecture. With emphasis on experimental interventions, cultural infrastructures, and design in the public realm, her work critically re-evaluates ways that architecture can sustain heritage and participate in public discourse.
Sirota is the principal of Akoaki, a Detroit-based art and architecture practice with an established reputation for original projects that materialize utopian ambitions in complex urban scenarios. Predicated on intensive fieldwork and interdisciplinary research, the studio’s methods mine underexposed narratives, uncover new knowledge about the material realities of place, and offer ways that architecture can generate pluralistic, social environments. Since the studio’s launch in 2008, the work has received numerous awards, including a Research and Development (R+D) Award from Architect Magazine (2013), a SXSW Place by Design Award (2015), and an ACSA Faculty Design Award (2016). Akoaki’s projects have appeared in exhibitions internationally, with recent publications in Frame, ARTnews, Future Anterior, MONU, and Architect Magazine, among others.
In parallel, working beyond traditional models of patronage, Sirota has participated in the conception and operation of a series of experimental organizations and urban-scaled initiatives, including: the Metropolitan Observatory of Digital Culture and Representation, the O.N.E. Mile Project, the Bureau of Emergent Urbanity, and the Detroit Afrikan Music Institution. With support from ArtPlace America, the Knight Arts Foundation, and Creative Many, these platforms explore new prototypes for urban activation. The work has prompted contribution to numerous international lectures, panels, workshops, and expositions addressing socially driven architectural practice: the Institute for Urban Design curated exhibit “Spontaneous Interventions, Design Actions for the Common Good”, the “Making Visible the Collective Value” session of Grande Meeting di chiusura of the Venice biennale’s 13th International Architecture Exhibition “Common Grounds” with Mireille Roddier, SXgood Lab: Art + Impact at SXSW 2016, and the 2017 Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale, among others.
At Taubman College, Sirota teaches graduate and undergraduate design studios as well as critical conservation theory. Since joining the faculty, she has received the Donna M. Salzer Award for Teaching Excellence, and was voted one of the 30 Most Admired Educators for 2013 by Design Intelligence. She holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard's Graduate School of Design, where she earned the Araldo Cossutta Prize for Design Excellence, and a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University.