By Nathaniel Goehring
As an audacious, young go-getter at prestigious architecture firms in New York, Rotterdam and Copenhagen, John Patrick was conceptualizing a talent agency for the built environment. Founded in New York in 2012 and now based in Detroit, ABOVE THE FOLD occupies a new niche for culture, real estate and hospitality.
Whereas similar creative agencies in the realms of art, entertainment and fashion starting booming in the ’90s and ’00s, John Patrick suggests that similar models for architecture have been slow to develop momentum because it moves at a slower pace than other art forms. The idea, he said, “is to represent and bring together the very best in the industry, across disciplines and across project types.” ABOVE THE FOLD’s roster includes firms that specialize in a variety of project types from interiors to the design of large-scale museums, parks and mixed-use buildings.
The founder refers to The Principle of Professional Practice published in 1909, which stated, “The profession of architecture calls for men of the highest integrity, business capacity and artistic ability.” A futurist at heart, John Patrick believes his roster reflects this mark of aptitude and promise; his roster includes a mix of rising stars and strong designers who have been running boutique firms for decades — Edwin Chan, Jane Sachs, Kulapat Yantrasast, Laura Foxman, Matt Rossetti, Michael K Chen, Mun Summ Wong, Paul Aferiat, Peter Stamberg, Preston Scott Cohen, and Richard Hassell—and focuses on connecting them to clients, the media and new collaborators.
“I enjoy the process of understanding a client, their vision and needs, then pairing them with designers who can elevate their intentions,” says John Patrick. But his work doesn’t stop there, as he does not shy away from seeing projects evolve. The agency also then collaborates on public relations, special events, strategic communications and the photography of projects.
In recent months, ABOVE THE FOLD has started working with the Singapore-based firm WOHA, whose GARDEN CITY MEGA CITY exhibition is on view at The Skyscraper Museum and a new book release in June. Often traveling between Detroit and New York, John Patrick notes that the agency’s roster continues to expand; a firm on Architectural Digest’s AD100 list, a first for him, recently signed and the agency is representing ROSSETTI, one of the leading sports and entertainment design firms in the world.
While the careers and exposure of the agency’s roster continues to rise, John Patrick reflects on his latest mission: Detroit. “Here we have the opportunity to employ the very best talent, both emerging and established, to reinvent a city. Status quo simply will not do,” he says. Turning 30 in June, having already realized his first dream to found ABOVE THE FOLD, there is little reason to doubt that the future might lead him there.