WEATHERS is a Chicago based office founded by Sean Lally that builds teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers and researchers to explore new opportunities for how we design and build the environments we live in.

The greatest challenge facing architecture and our broader society today is the need for advancements in harnessing energy. Rather than continue to focus on maximizing efficiency for its conservation and consumption we must provide an architecture with lifestyles for the future that give us new worlds to strive for and realize. In our projects we test the social, organizational, economic and aesthetic implications of these new architectures.

Without this fundamental rethinking between architecture and energy, both will remain to be seen as distinct; architecture as a building of walls and energy as a fuel for filling it. Instead, architecture is at a unique and adventurous stage for questioning and reinforming our definitions of architecture and the environments and lifestyles they foster.

Photo credit: EOS Series / Untitled One, Sean Lally, 2014 ©


10.15.2014 Sean Lally will be presenting at the
14th Annual SyracuseCoE Symposium

The Air from Other Planets
A Brief History of Architecture to Come
By Sean Lally

Published by Lars Müller Publishers
Available at Amazon

In The Air from Other Planets, Sean Lally introduces the reader to an architecture produced by designing the energy within our environment (electromagnetic, thermodynamic, acoustic, and chemical ). This architecture exchanges the walls and shells we have assumed to be the only type of attainable architecture for a range of material energies that develops its own shapes, aesthetics, organizational systems, and social experiences. The book is a story in which energy emerges as more than what fills the interior of a building or reflects off its outer walls. Instead, energy becomes its own enterprise for design innovation: it becomes the architecture itself.

The Air from Other Planets is a book nostalgic for the future, rooted in the belief that the architect's greatest attributes lie not only in harnessing the latest technologies and advancements in building materials, but also in exercising our imaginations through speculation and the projections of worlds and environments yet to exist. The book shows us that some of our greatest discoveries come not from seeking something new but from re-examining what we already have around us.

The Art Institute of Chicago
Curated by Alexander Eisenschmidt & Jonathan Mekinda
Invited Participant
04.05.4 through 01.04.15

(c) Art Institute of Chicago_Chicagoisms

Throughout its history the city of Chicago has inspired myriad urban and architectural innovations, many of which have had far-reaching influence. Indeed, urbanists and architects today still look to many of these historical moments in Chicago as exemplary instances of progression and development. This exhibition surveys Chicago’s rich urban history and explores contemporary approaches to five Chicagoisms—key historical principles that have powered the city’s distinctive evolution.

As part of a series in which the department enlists contemporary architects and designers to organize installations that investigate critical issues within their practices, architectural theorist Alexander Eisenschmidt and art historian Jonathan Mekinda have extrapolated key ideas from their recent publication, Chicagoisms: The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation. Along with designer Matt Wizinsky, the team engaged contemporary architects to undertake their own investigations and interpretations of five Chicagoisms. Developed as architectural models with corresponding manifestos specifically for this exhibition, these contemporary explorations are presented with historical black-and-white photographs that are emblematic of the five Chicagoisms. This juxtaposition of the historic and the contemporary underscores how the architectural and urban history of Chicago can act as a catalyst for new forms of speculation and innovation.
- Alexander Eisenschmidt & Jonathan Mekinda

Sean Lally / WEATHERS

(with Shifa Virani and Maged Guerguis)

The myth of the skyscraper and its start in Chicago is well known, especially the role played by technological ingredients such as steel, electrical lighting, and the elevator. Technological advancements continue today; the most important are in the fields of energy and bio-engineering. The first will give architects a new building material to sit alongside the steel, concrete, and glass of the past, while the second offers the means for the human body to sense the boundaries made with such material energies. Once again, Chicago must nurture technology in order to define the aesthetics and typologies of a new architecture and the urban experiences that it might yield.

(c) Art Institute of Chicago_Chicagoisms
Chicago, Illinois
2012 Installation Proposal
with (Evgeniya Plotnikova, Maged Guerguis)

Proof 001 is a proposal to provide a flexible architectural space for the public parks and plazas of Chicago. Embedded into the existing stone paving of the plaza, the project sits flush on grade. Two openings are covered with a porous, walkable surface. The larger opening pushes air out and launches it on a circular course before it is pulled back down and recycled by the smaller opening to the rear. The energy mass within the plaza creates a physical shape and space usable during Chicago’s winter months) and the shape of the space can be tuned in intensity to accommodate changing recreational and public programming needs and can even go dormant when not needed. The boundary edge of the space can be held tightly as the air moves out from the source below and into the environment above. Air temperature, velocity, and the release of particulates into the air join together to inform the spatial boundary edge. Spatial boundaries can be both visually detected from a distance as well as sensed through tactile means, triggered by the thermal and electrical charges and resistance of air particulates that the human body comes in contact with as it approaches and enters the spaces.

Interior / exterior boundary condition

Ground plane without material energies
Houston, TX
2008, Installation & Prototypes
with Benson Gillespie, Ned Dodington, Brian Shepherdson, Curt Gambetta, Viktor Ramos
Supported by the Rice School of Architecture

Wanderings is in pursuit of a ‘climatic infrastructure’ for commercial and public domains that augments and re-configures existing external micro-climates for occupation and programmatic use. The project operates on the existing micro-climatic variables, altering and controlling them for the use of programmatic activities. This ‘Climatic Infrastructure’ looks to ways of lifting these materials from their dependence on surfaces and services; and in doing so, to deploy them as building materials in and of themselves, thus redefining our physical boundaries and resulting in the design innovation of new spatial and social organizations for the urban public and commercial metropolis. The project doesn’t seek to simply ‘condition’ exterior spaces and reproduce existing and known climates, but instead seeks new territories of design, infastructure, texture, and social interaction. The intention is not to simply move activities ‘outside’ but to tease out the spatial and social implications when ‘walls’ and ‘geometry’ are no longer our primary means of spatial organization.

Seasonal expansion

The shapes consist of sealed air cavities with heating filaments on the interiors. This thermal resource can be engaged by conduction (seating and soil) or convection (surrounding air).

Production images
Initial protoptypes demonstrate the scale, materaility, lighting and configuration of the shapes. This intial ‘dry fit’ of the system is followed by environmental tests and studies to demostrate it’s abilities and configuration control for augmenting and adapting existing local micro-climates in various locales.

Each unit might be thought to be rather minimal in its production, but with the units aggregated together, they have the potential to make sizable changes to the local micro-climates.

Unit Details