National Building Museum's Making Room: Housing for a Changing America Exhibit Opens

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.

Making RoomUnprecedented 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 policymakers) 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 Foundation; Andersen Corporation; Hufcor; the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation; AJ Madison, Electrolux, Elica, and Miele; Ceramics of Italy; Ditto Residential; Nixon Peabody LLP; Wells Fargo Housing Foundation; Arris Apartments; Casaplex; Ernest Rust; 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 Clei; AJ Madison, Electrolux, Elica, and Miele; Andersen Corporation; Benjamin Moore & Co.; Capitol Closets; Casaplex; Ceramica Vogue; Ceramics of Italy; Duravit USA, Inc.; Eastbanc, Inc. Ernest Rust; Geberit; GINGER; Gruppo Romani; Hafele; Hansgrohe; Hufcor; In2Green; MAPEI; Neoscape; Newfloor; Novità Communications; Opticos; Precision Door and Hardware; Protek; 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 policymakers 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