Modern, playful, and generous New England architecture that gives back to the public sphere in a stylish and useful manner.
Aaron Forrest and Yasmin Vobis met in architecture graduate school at Princeton University and established their love of architecture through informal projects together. After years of moving to various cities and pursuing different projects, Ultramoderne was born.
Ultramoderne is an award-winning architecture and design firm located in Providence, RI, run by Forrest and Vobis. According to their website, “The principals are driven by an experimental approach that leads to conceptually rigorous and well-executed designs. The office has experience working at a wide variety of scales, from single-family residences to urban-scale planning.” What makes Ultramoderne so unique, according to Forrest, is their focus and dedication to public space projects. They’re driven and passionate about figuring out different ways to engage with a broader public.
“Providence has been amazing,” Forrest says. The space they occupy within Rhode Island is certainly significant to them. They lived and worked in New York before moving to Providence, and both experiences were incredibly different. Forrest and Vobis truly seem to love the region in which they work now.
“The thing I love about Providence are the many old industrial buildings that exist around the city.” explains Vobis. “Many of these are incredible spaces — large, open spaces with lots of natural light and a clear expression of structure. The challenge we face will be to understand how to reuse many of these buildings in the future — how we breathe new life into them and re-imagine them — instead of tearing them down and replacing them with cheaper, faster and less flexible buildings, which happens all too often.”
But Ultramoderne is just getting started. While they’ve had lots of business thus far, with past clients including the Van Alen Institute, National Parks Service, Chicago Parks District, and the Boston Society of Architects, they are ready for the next challenge. “I would like to see Ultramoderne tackle larger public projects,” explains Vobis. “Our office started with small-scale installations, which were a great opportunity for us to test new ideas and techniques… we relish the idea that architecture can be for everyone, not just those that can afford to have something commissioned.”
Forrest adds, “We’d love to be so lucky to continue what we’re doing and find out how architecture can do more to help the community at large.”
Yasmin Vobis received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her Master’s Degree from Princeton University, where she was awarded the Butler Traveling Fellowship and the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Thesis Prize. She has taught at Princeton University and currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Aaron Forrest (AIA, NCARB) is a licensed architect who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. He received both his Bachelor’s Degree and Masters in Architecture from Princeton University. He has extensive professional experience, having practiced in New York with Bernheimer Architecture and Guy Nordenson and Associates Structural Engineers, and in Madrid with Ábalos & Herreros Arquitectos.