Cory Henry - Founder and Director, Atelier Cory Henry
Cory Henry - Founder and Director, Atelier Cory Henry


Questions for Cory HenryFounder and Director, Atelier Cory Henry

Who are some architects or individuals who inspire you in your pursuit of social justice and equitable design? What qualities or achievements of theirs resonate with you the most?

I often find inspiration from diverse sources outside of architecture. In regard to socially engaged work, artists such as David Hammon, Pepon Osorio, Spike Lee, and Samuel R. Delany resonate with me. Due to their adeptness in articulating the narratives and perspectives of marginalized communities, while also weaving connections among seemingly disparate groups. In the field of architecture the works of Michael Maltzan, Francis Kere, Phil Freelon (may he rest in peace), Charles Correa, Brooks Scarpa, and Teddy Cruz immediately come to mind. The work of those architects has demonstrated the potential I envision for architecture’s role and impact.

Francis Kere and Pepon Osorio particularly stand out for their collaborative and participatory approaches, which harness the wisdom and resources inherent within the communities they engage with. Michael Maltzan’s projects, such as the Star Apartments and Inner City Arts (ICA), extend beyond spatial considerations to address the social dimensions of their users’ needs. The inherent adaptability and flexibility in these projects engender a sense of democracy and ownership among the users—a quality that I consider in my work.

Also, individuals like Tya Winn, Justin Garrett Moore, and the late Gus Newport, whose unwavering commitment and advocacy play crucial roles in communities, and community organizations, to overcome financial barriers to access high-quality design. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Gus Newport before his passing, an experience that deeply enriched my perspective and further fueled many of the projects that I work on.

What advice would you give to young architects or aspiring design professionals who are passionate about social change and want to use their creativity to make a difference?

Given the complexity and intricate nature of the issues surrounding social change, the list of considerations is expansive. To distill it down, I would offer a single piece of guidance: detach your ego from your work, be self-aware, and enter each project or community with humility. Avoid going into a project with the assumption that you immediately know all the challenges of a space-place-community, the origins and all of the factors that caused these conditions, or that design alone is a panacea. This mindset will foster explorations that shape the approach to your work and determine the necessary collaborations outside of “architecture.” Design, as a catalyst for social transformation, must transcend conventional disciplinary boundaries.


Cory HenryFounder and Director, Atelier Cory Henry

Cory Henry is a practitioner and educator based in Los Angeles. The son of Jamaican immigrants and raised in The Bronx, he founded the eponymous interdisciplinary design studio, Atelier Cory Henry. Cory Henry’s approach to design integrates research and socially conscious ideals to create poetic contextually driven design solutions. His work ranges in scale and types, with a portfolio that expands several continents. He is a MacDowell Fellow – the US preeminent artist residency program – was awarded a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship – which is awarded to gifted individuals working in all the disciplines of the Arts and Humanities – has been recognized by NCARB as an emerging force in the field, and won the US National Emerging Architect OnOlive contemporary housing competition.

In academia, Cory Henry holds esteemed positions. Presently, he serves as the Ruth & Norman Moore Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis and holds a recurring teaching role as a Visiting Design Professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Additionally, he has twice been honored as a KEA Distinguished Professor by the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. His teaching experience extends to institutions like the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Syracuse University, Penn State University, and the University of Southern California.

Cory holds a B.Arch. from Drexel University, studied at SCI-Arc and has a M.Arch. from Cornell.