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Danny Wills
  • Danny Wills
    Cultivating the Map

    Liberal, KS (T33S - R32W - 6TH PM)

    The way we live leaves traces on the Earth. The tools we use to situate ourselves in the landscape leave marks and inscriptions of these processes on the ground, becoming a direct reflection of the society that formed it. The map acts a record of these inscriptions; is an outcome of a gathering of elements for the construction of a narrative about the site’s reality. This thesis finds itself in the territory of the map, proposing that the map is also a generative tool. Using the drawing as fertile ground, this thesis attempts a predictive organization of territory through the design of four new tools for the management of natural resources in the Great Plains, a region threatened with the cumulative adverse effects of industrial farming. Each tool proposes new ways of drawing the land and acts as an instrument that reveals the landscape’s new potential.

    Senior Thesis

    Xarranca Pavilion

    XARRANCA is a pop-up beach pavilion at Plaça del Mar in Barcelona, and forms part of the BCN RE.SET series of public space installations reflecting on concepts of identity, memory, diversity, freedom, democracy and Europe.

    As featured in designboom.

    With Urban-Think Tank

    Mike Tyson’s Abandoned Mansion

    The photographs act as an attempt at preserving some memory of the man who lived within its walls, and the tacky choices he made in its décor.

    As featured in Citizen K Magazine and Pie Paper.


    Kern Oil

    This project proposes an economic ecology of monoculture through a combinatory layering of pre-existing technologies, recycling techniques, waste streams, and value chains and pushes them to their extreme. Oil fields are transformed into oases of golf fields to form a landscape of water recycling devices. Shifts in seismic activity create new geological basins, altering surface water retention channels. Suburbia turns inward to recycle all forms of bodily water for home gardening, while the city uses their smog problems to provide shading and fertilizer for the urban farms. With farmers, city dwellers, and suburbanites, Kern County forms an integrated machine of water sharing, all regulated by the producers of KERN OIL ®.

    Competition Entry for Dry Futures


    Hello Wood - Migrant House

    In broad definition, the “migrant” is a person physically displaced from their home due to a variety of reasons. Escaping corruption, unemployment, poverty, conflict, war, or environmental destruction, these travelers leave behind their established communities in hope for a better, more secure life. They take many forms—expatriates, immigrants (illegal or legal), asylum-seekers, refugees, workers, pilgrims, nomads. However you choose to call it, one thing is common for all—the loss of home and all the things that come with it, a shelter, a job, a livelihood, a community.

    The Migrant House proposes to challenge this phenomena of displacement through an inquiry into what defines a community center and how, through this space, one can rebuild shelter, safety, integration, economic security, and spirit.

    As featured in ArchDaily.

    With Urban-Think Tank

    4000 KM / España

    A collection of photographs and artifacts from a month long trip though Spain.

    As featured in BLDGBLOG (twice!)


    In the summer of 2011 I rode my bicycle through 8 different countries, over 80 cities, and in total 4000 km.

    These are a few photographs from the adventure.


    Exhibition Work

    Five selected exhibitions while working for The Institute for Sustainable Design at The Cooper Union, The Drawing Center, NY, the Architecture Archive at The Cooper Union, and Urban-Think Tank.

    01 – Lessons From Modernism: Environmental Design Considerations in 20th Century Architecture, 1925 - 1970

    02 - Paul Rudolph: Lower Manhattan Expressway

    03 - Architecture at Cooper: 1859-2009

    04 - Torre David / Gran Horizonte

    05 - Si/No: The Architecture of Urban Think

    2012, 2010, 2009, 2013, 2015

    Lessons from the Green Revolution

    The William Cooper Mack Thesis Fellowship granted me the opportunity to travel to Cuba to study and map the urban agrarian culture currently thriving in many Cuban cities, in order to bring back lessons and models of invention to the U.S. agrarian system.

    Traveling around these various cities taught me about the infrastructure of food and how it produces new patterns of community organization and economies based entirely on the many varieties of land production. By patterns of community organization, I refer to the multiple scales of urban farms, markets, cafeterias, mobile food vendors and family-run restaurants. By land production, I refer to the farms that both produce and sell, but also everything from produced soils, compost and humus, to seeds, animal feed, oils and herbs – even the technologies of organic farming.


    Measuring the Landscape

    A series of experimental tools to measure different landscapes and the drawings and sculptures that resulted.

    Most work completed while studying sculpture under Sarah Oppenheimer.

    Versions of this work appear in CLOG: Landmark and trans magazin 27:Curated

    2012 - 2016

    Cooper Union Work

    01 - Descriptive Geometry

    Experiments with cutting planes, auxiliary projections, manual algorithms, and bandsaws.

    First Year Elective, with Professor Michael Young

    02 - Santa Maria in Campitelli

    An analysis of the 17th century Baroque church by Carlo Rainaldi.

    Second Year Design Studio, with Professors Michael Young and Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa.

    03 - Terra-Techtonics

    The measurement of a given terrain directly translated into the design of a house and gallery for a photographer.

    Second Year Design Studio, with Professors Kevin Bone and Michael Young.

    2006 - 2008

  • Danny Wills is a graduate of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union where his thesis was awarded the Henry Adams AIA Medal and Certificate of Merit, as well as the Yarnell Thesis Prize in Architecture, both honors given to the top-ranking student. His work investigates rural and urban issues through ecological systems thinking in regards to food, landscape, and water. A large part of his interest comes from riding his bike, on which he has logged over 8000km through 10 different countries.

    His work has been published in Wallpaper* Magazine, CLOG, trans magazin, Urban Infill, Citizen K Magazine, and The Drawing Center’s Drawing Papers Series, as well as several online sources including Domus, BLDGBLOG and ArchDaily.

    He has worked for Storefront for Art and Architecture, Lyn Rice Architect, the Institute for Sustainable Design, and the Architecture Archive at The Cooper Union, all focused on the development of exhibitions, including research, design, production and fabrication.

    Currently he is a researcher and design studio critic at the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design in the ETH Zürich Department of Architecture, and a project architect with Urban-Think Tank, an interdisciplinary architecture and urban design practice. He has also worked as a teaching assistant at The Cooper Union, lecturing on the topics of landscape and sustainability.