National Building Museum to Present Making Room: Housing for a Changing America

Categories: Articles, Press

New exhibition highlights innovative housing solutions in one-of-a-kind evolving installation

Depending on the household’s configuration, two adjacent living areas—shown here—can function completely separately or as a larger, combined space. The furniture system in each area seamlessly transitions between seating and sleeping, and the panel with the television is actually a movable, motorized, and soundproof wall. Focused on privacy, a single adult calls each area their own, but they can nevertheless combine rooms if they choose. Rendering courtesy Resource Furniture and Clei.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the National Building Museum announced the opening of Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, an exhibition which runs from November 18, 2017 through September 16, 2018. Organized with the Citizens Housing & Planning Council and presented in partnership with Resource Furniture and Clei, Making Room showcases innovative design solutions for meeting the evolving 21st-century needs of America’s diverse households.

Unprecedented shifts in both demographics and lifestyle have fundamentally transformed the idea of the American household. Today, approximately one third of our households are single adults living alone, and the number of those who live with roommates, or in extended family situations, is on the rise. Our population is also aging rapidly and will need new housing options that can support aging-in-place with diminished physical or cognitive abilities. America’s housing supply, however, has been slow to respond to these extraordinary demographic shifts. While only 20% of American households are a nuclear family, our housing markets remain fixated on their needs. The disparity between the perceived and actual housing needs of our population is exacerbating the modern housing crisis—a factor few are talking about on the national level.

Making Room is a rallying cry for a wider menu of housing options. It showcases how architects, policymakers, developers, planners, and the general public can use design as an integral tool to meet housing needs. Presented with Resource Furniture and Clei, the exhibition’s centerpiece is a one-of-a-kind, full-scale home that embodies these ideas.

The Open House
Designed by Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo/Clei, this fully rendered 1,000-square-foot house will be installed directly in the exhibition’s galleries for visitors to experience and explore. Featuring a hyper-efficient layout, smart technologies, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture, the Open House demonstrates how a flexible space can meet the needs of a variety of today’s fastest-growing and underserved households.

To showcase how this flexible space can adapt to seamlessly accommodate three entirely different living arrangements—roommates, an extended family, and a retired couple—the interior furnishings will be changed twice during the exhibition’s run. The roommates scenario will be displayed at the exhibition’s opening.

In addition to the Open House, the exhibition will highlight cutting-edge projects that housing entrepreneurs (architects, designers, and allied housing advocates and policy makers) are taking to expand our housing options, including:

  • Micro-apartments in New York City
  • Shared housing experiments in the D.C. area
  • Backyard accessory cottages in Seattle
  • Tiny houses that are helping the formerly homeless in Austin
  • The boom in cohousing communities

“Households in the United States are changing, but housing supply and policy is not changing at the same pace,” said Chase W. Rynd, president and executive director of the National Building Museum. “Making Room offers the opportunity to explore innovative design solutions to meet evolving lifestyle needs in today’s society, both through case studies and with the full-scale Open House that we are constructing in our galleries.”

The exhibition is generously supported by AARP FoundationAndersen CorporationHufcor; National Association of REALTORS®; the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation; AJ Madison, Electrolux, Elica, and MieleCeramics of Italy; Ditto Residential; Nixon Peabody LLP; Wells Fargo Housing FoundationArris ApartmentsCasaplexErnest Rust- European Kitchens; LISC; Protek; Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners DC, LLP; and CHPC partners: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, Dattner Architects, FXFOWLE, SLCE Architects, GF55 Partners, and RKTB.

In-kind support is provided by Resource Furniture and CleiAJ Madison, Electrolux, Elica, and Miele; Andersen Corporation; Benjamin Moore & Co.; Capitol Closet Design; CasaplexCeramics of Italy, Caesar Ceramiche, Ceramica Vogue, Ergon, Gruppo Romani, MAPEI, and Tagina; Duravit USA, Inc.; EastBanc, Inc.; Ernest Rust- European Kitchens; FLOR; Geberit; Ginger; Häfele America Co.; Hansgrohe; Hufcor; In2Green; Neoscape; Newfloor; Novità Communications; Opticos Design, Inc.; Precision Door and Hardware; Protek; The Joyce Agency; and Vaghi.

A full slate of educational programming will accompany the exhibition throughout its run, including panel discussions that delve into how designers, developers, and policy makers across the country are addressing the changing housing needs of modern America. The first two of these, “Spotlight on Design: The Making of Carmel Place” and “Home Today/Home Tomorrow,” will expand on two case studies featured in the exhibition, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about these groundbreaking projects firsthand. For more information on education programming visit

WeLive in Crystal City, Virginia, offers micro apartments with unique amenities: each 3-story neighborhood revolves around a communal kitchen, as well as a dining and media lounge area, easily accessible from other floors via an open staircase. ©Assembly Studio 2016, Courtesy WeLive

Members of the press are invited to preview the exhibition on Thursday, November 16 at 10 am. RSVP to Emma Filar at or 202.272.2448, ext. 3458. Curator Chrysanthe Broikos will lead a tour of the exhibition. Sarah Watson, deputy director, Citizens Housing & Planning Council, and Lisa Blecker, director of marketing, Resource Furniture, will offer remarks. Pierluigi Colombo, designer/art director, Clei, will be available for questions regarding the Open House.

Press materials and images can be found at Required caption and crediting information is provided in the folder. Please contact Emma Filar at or 202.272.2448, ext. 3458 with questions or requests for interviews.

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, web content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Citizens Housing & Planning Council is a nonprofit research and education organization focused on housing in New York City. CHPC’s mission, since 1937, is to develop and advance practical public policies to support the housing stock of the city by better understanding the most pressing housing and neighborhood needs.

Resource Furniture is the original – and largest – source for cutting-edge, multi-functional living systems, offering the most inspired and innovative furniture solutions available in the world for more than 15 years. With showrooms in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Mexico City, Resource Furniture continues to define and revolutionize the industry by offering the most technologically innovative, space-saving and sustainable products in the world, all of which transform any space with both beauty and functionality. For more information visit

Based in Brianza, Italy, Clei, s.r.l. has been the global leader in the design and manufacturing of smart, transformable furniture since 1963. With a focus on research and innovation, the second generation of the Colombo family continues to maintain the standards set by their founding fathers, producing the most innovative and highest quality products available. Clei’s unique, patented furniture is distributed worldwide to an ever growing and increasingly appreciative audience.