Named one of the top 10 must-see architecture exhibitions to see this year by The Architect's Newspaper!

The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form presents a group of design experiments by Bay Area design-research studio The Open Workshop that test how architecture can empower the diverse voices that make up the public realm and the environments in which they exist. Today, society continues to face urban challenges—from economic inequality to a progressively fragile natural environment—that, in order to be addressed, require us to come together in a moment when what we collectively value is increasingly difficult to locate.

The design experiments include a series of models, drawings, plants, and artifacts that hang within the gallery, creating an interconnected three-dimensional field that can be adjusted by the visitor. These interactive installations are arranged into five themes—Soft Frameworks, Articulated Surfaces, the Living Archive, Re-Wiring States, and Commoning—and provide a space for the public to engage in a dialogue regarding how form interfaces with the social, political, and environmental realms. The exhibition aims to reveal the different ways that architectural form can create inclusive forums for a multitude of voices to reflect who we are today.

The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form is the third installment of The City Initiative, which highlights architects, designers, planners, and artists creating provocative work in urban environments. The Open Workshop, founded by architect and urban designer Neeraj Bhatia, focuses on the relationship between territory, form, and equity.

Opening Night Reception

Fri, Mar 9, 6-9PM

6-7PM Artist Conversation, Screening Room
7-9PM Reception, Youth Arts Lounge

Celebrate the opening of The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form on Friday, March 9. Join us at 6PM for an artist talk, with a reception to follow at 7PM.

Both segments free with gallery admission. Seating at the artist conversation is first come, first served so don’t miss out!

Ticket Info

Regular Admission: $10

10% off admission for seniors, students, and teachers, non-profit employees, KQED members, public transit riders, and library card holders.

FREE for same-day film or performance ticket holders, children 5 and under, and military service members with ID.

First Tuesdays of the month: Free admission.

See our open hours »

YBCA Members

FREE for YBCA Members at all levels*.

YBCA Members enjoy unlimited free admission to gallery exhibitions*.

Not yet a YBCA Member? Join now »

*Number of tickets per visit based on membership level.


The Open Workshop is an architectural urbanism practice that focuses on the relationship between form and territory. Specifically, the firm is interested in the agency of form to impact political, economic, and ecological systems. Using a transcalar approach to design research, the office straddles a complex line between permanence and ephemerality, control and choice, legibility and illegibility, the individual and the collective, determinacy and indeterminacy, the figure and the field. The office name, The Open Workshop, is a reference to Umberto Eco’s 1962 treatise The Open Work. The office is dedicated to evolving Eco’s concept into architecture by expanding the subject to include the pluralistic public realm and transforming environmental context. In 2016, The Open Workshop was awarded the Architectural League Young Architects Prize as well as the Emerging Leaders Award from Design Intelligence.

Project Leads: Neeraj Bhatia, Jared Clifton (Project Manager), Cesar Lopez (Representation)
Project Team: Hayfa Al-Gwaiz, Shawn Komlos, Blake Stevenson, Laura Williams

Neeraj Bhatia is a licensed architect and urban designer from Toronto, and the founder of The Open Workshop. His work resides at the intersection of politics, infrastructure, and urbanism. He is an assistant professor at California College of the Arts, where he also codirects the urbanism research lab The Urban Works Agency. Prior to CCA, Bhatia held teaching positions at Cornell University, Rice University, and the University of Toronto. Select distinctions include the Emerging Leaders Award from DesignIntelligence, Graham Foundation Grants, the Lawrence B. Anderson Award, Shell Center for Sustainability Grant, Odebrecht first prize Award for Sustainability, ACSA Faculty Design Award, and the Fulbright Fellowship. He is the coeditor of the books Bracket [Takes Action], The Petropolis of Tomorrow, Bracket [Goes Soft], and Arium: Weather + Architecture, and coauthor of Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling—Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism. He has a master’s degree in architecture and urbanism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and bachelor of architecture from the University of Waterloo.


The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form is part of The City Initiative, a series of case studies by architects, designers, planners, and artists creating provocative work in the urban environment. It is organized by Martin Strickland, exhibitions associate, and Lucía Sanromán, director of visual arts.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

YBCA Programs are made possible in part by: The James Irvine Foundation.

Additional Funding for YBCA Programs: National Endowment for the Arts, Abundance Foundation, Grosvenor, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

YBCA Exhibitions are made possible in part by: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Panta Rhea Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellows Program, and Meridee Moore and Kevin King.

Lead Image: The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form, 2017. Courtesy The Open Workshop.