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LOT-EK is an architectural design studio based in New York City and Naples, Italy. Founded in 1993 by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, the firm is particularly well known for their critical and practical research into the adaptive reuse (“upcycling”) of infrastructural and industrial objects — most notably the standard 40-foot shipping container, which they have applied to the design of institutional, commercial and residential projects globally.[1] [2] In addition, LOT-EK has conceived and executed exhibition design and site-specific installations for cultural institutions and museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, the Walker Art Center and the Guggenheim, among others. [3][4]


Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano each have a Masters Degree in Architecture and Urban Design from the University of Naples Federico II, Italy (1989), and have completed post-graduate studies at Columbia University, New York (1990-1991). In addition to heading LOT-EK, they currently teach at Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York. They also lecture at universities and cultural institutions in the US and abroad, and have presented at conferences and meetings about sustainability and the built environment, including the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction (Mexico City), and the Kyoto Institute of Technology (Kyoto, Japan), among others.[5]

In December 2011, Ada and Giuseppe were recognized as USA Booth Fellows of Architecture & Design by United States Artists.[6]


LOT-EK’s ongoing research has focused on man-made objects and systems and the way they proliferate, accumulate, overlap and interfere with the built, and natural, environment around the globe. They are internationally recognized for initiating the concept of creating architecture with shipping containers and has leveraged this construction technology with projects at all scales. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

In addition to utilizing containers as building blocks for architecture, LOT-EK has upcycled other objects – including truck bodies, airplane fuselages, and reclaimed wood or steel doors – as structural interventions to design buildings and interiors. [12] [13] [14]

LOT-EK has collaborated on several international master plan projects, working with colleagues such as Kengo Kuma (Beijing, China), MVRDV (Almere, Netherlands) and the BOOM Residential Community project in Palm Springs, CA, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Jürgen Mayer H., Joel Sanders, SurfaceDesign and HWKN.


  • LOT-EK: UPCYCLE. ISBN: 978-1-105-96793-1
  • MDU Mobile Dwelling Unit, DAP, 2003. ISBN: 1-891024-68-X
  • Urbanscan, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. ISBN: 1-56898-300-X
  • LOT-EK Mixer, Edizioni Press, 2000. ISBN: 0-9662230-9-8



  1. Whitney Studio (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City)
  2. APAP OpenSchool (Anyang, Korea)
  3. Puma City (Multiple global ports)
  4. Sanlitun North (Beijing, China)
  5. Sanlitun South (Beijing, China)
  6. Weiner Residence (New York City)
  7. Russell-Fontanez Residence (New York City)
  8. Mobile Dwelling Unit or MDU (Multiple locations in the US)


  1. Pier 57 (Winning RFP design; planned completion in 2014)
  2. Carroll House (planned completion in 2013)
  3. Band of Outsiders (Tokyo and New York City retail stores)


  1. ^ Gordon, Alastair (December 19, 2002). "From Dockyard to Your Yard". New York Times. 
  2. ^ Vogel, Carol (March 14, 2012). "From Show and Look to Show and Teach". New York Times. 
  3. ^ Chua, Yen Ping. "Point Me In A New Direction". MARK Magazine. Retrieved December-January 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Richards, Kristen (Summer 2011). "2011 AIANY Design Awards". Oculus Newsletter. 
  5. ^ Holcim Forum Green Workshop "Mine the City" (2010)
  6. ^ [2. "2011 United States Artist Fellows"] Check |url= value (help). United States Artists. Retrieved December 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Skokol, David (April–May 2008). "View Point: Shipping News". MARK (13 (Green Icons)): 60–73. 
  8. ^ Kotnik, Jure (2008). Container Architecture. Links Books. p. 256. ISBN 978-8496969223. 
  9. ^ Stewart, Matthew (November/December 2010). "Second Life: APAP OpenSchool". FRAME: Radical Re-use (77): 104–105.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Viladas, Pilar (June 8, 2008). "A Lot-Ek Solution". New York Times Magazine (The Architecture Issue). 
  11. ^ Alden, Todd. "LOT-EK: Industrial Bricolage". GRAPHIS. 59 (347): 160. 
  12. ^ Manaugh, Geoff (April 2010). "Village People". DWELL.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Young, Lucie (October 8, 2000). "Think Tank". The New York Times Magazine.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  14. ^ Ohtake, Miyoko (November 2011). "Tunnel Vision". DWELL.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)


  1. LOT-EK Official Website
  2. Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Category:LOT-EK buildings Category:Architects Category:Architects in New York City Category:United States Artist (USA) Fellows