FIRM Architecture and Design is an emerging Brooklyn based practice founded by James Khamsi in 2011. Working at the intersection of architecture, urbanism and art, we are dedicated to the expansion and preservation of public space and public networks in cities.
As urban environments are increasingly being developed through private spaces and interests, design plays a critical role in enriching the cultural and ecological fabric of our cities. Through our work, we aim to transform the status quo.
We work at a range of scales, in different locations, and for many kinds of clients. Every project is informed by observation, research and analysis. Through this process, we seek to understand the conditions and participants that influence each project and create situation specific designs.
We work with materials, patterns, and forms to create environments with unique effects and experiences. We bring strong figures to the city that engage individuals and communities.
FIRM believes that design is fundamentally inclusive and collaborative process. Creating vital places within the city isn’t a task for compartmentalized specialists, it is best achieved by cross-disciplinary teams that understand how to combine the social and cultural in a larger ecology. To that end, we have an ongoing collaboration with artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, and we work regularly with landscape architects and planners with whom we teach and share studio space in Brooklyn. FIRM isn’t a singular organization, but part of a broader collaborative constellation.
From the scale of the city to the small detail, we are committed to creating ecologically and socially sustainable projects. As part of our practice, we work with community groups and non-profits to advocate – through design – for the expansion and improvement of public spaces in the city.
James Khamsi RA, AIA, Principal
James designs across a range of scales – from urban masterplans to furniture pieces – and has delivered projects in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Prior to founding FIRM, he practiced with leading architects, most notably at Foreign Office Architects, where he worked on the London 2012 Olympic Park Masterplan, the Sevenstone mixed-use development in Sheffield and the Virtual Metro for the RATP in Paris.
James received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University, and his Masters of Architecture with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work has been published in Actar’s Verb series, Volume, MAS Context, MONU, Scapegoat and Interior Design magazine. He is the editor of “Huburbs: Transit and Urbanism in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area,” published 2012 by the University of Toronto.
Beyond his practice, James is active in research and teaching. He is currently Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University, and he has held positions at Cornell, the University of Toronto, and Harvard.