Thursday, May 13, 2010

Visionary Architect - Thom Mayne

Thom Mayne was born on January 19th, 1944 in Waterbury, Connecticut. He is a widely recognized Los Angeles based architect. Educated at University of Southern California and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1978, Mayne helped found the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1972. Since then he has held teaching positions at SCI-Arc, the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is principal of Morphosis, a renowned architectural office located in California. The firm, Morphosis, an interdisciplinary and collective architectural practice in Los Angeles involved in innovative design and rigorous research. The firm’s work ranges from residential, institutional, and civic buildings to large urban planning projects. The emphasis is on a collaboration between designers and client that takes into account the unique requirements and aesthetic opportunities presented by the project, its site, and its context. Mayne received the Pritzker Prize in March 2005. In addition to the Prizker Prize, his honors include the National Design Award for Architecture (2006), Rome Prize Fellowship, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Institute of Architects/Los Angeles Gold Medal in Architecture (2000).

Morphosis’s design philosophy arises from an interest in producing work with a meaning that can be understood by absorbing the culture for which it was made. This is in opposition to typical architectural philosophies which overlay meaning from outside influences and are distant from the question at hand.

The word “metamorphosis” (from which the name Morphosis is derived) means a “change in form or transformation.” For Morphosis this reflects a design process intuitively embedded within an increasingly groundless modern society that is exemplified by the shifting landscape of Los Angeles (the firm’s home). Their working method values contradiction, conflict, and change, and understands each project as a dynamic entity.
The work of Morphosis has a layered quality. The designs often include multiple organizational systems which find unique expression while contributing to a coherent whole. Visually, the firm’s architecture includes sculptural forms which often appear to arise effortlessly from the landscape.[neutrality is disputed] In recent years this has been increasingly made possible through the use of computational design techniques which simplify the construction of complex forms.
Morphosis is a dynamic and evolving practice that responds to the shifting and advancing social, cultural, political and technological conditions of modern life. A critical practice where creative output engages contemporary society and culture through architectural design and education, Morphosis is a process driven firm that seeks new and different design challenges and has resisted becoming specialized in any particular building type. Morphosis typically generates its ideas through brain-storming sessions, in which designers question all prior assumptions about a project and intensively test and refine different avenues toward a solution.

Collaboration with the client is an essential part of this process. Morphosis works closely with its clients to help them define the ethical and functional goals of the project, then translates those goals into a design that satisfies the unique requirements and aesthetic opportunities of the program, site and context.
The ultimate goal is to produce an architecture that surprises and inspires; a critical architecture that contributes to the conversation about how we live today.

Morphosis is currently one of the distinguished architecture firms working with Brad Pitt and the Make It Right 9 Foundation, helping to rebuild New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward. You can check out their contributions at . Make a donation while you're there, it a wonderful things that they are doing!

Other works of Thoms, as well as honors and distictions

 Edward MacDowell Medal / 2008
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences / 2008
AIA Los Angeles Presidential Award / 2007
AIA California Council, The Maybeck Award / 2007
National Design Award, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum / 2006
Alumni Merit Award, University of Southern California / 2006
Pritzker Architecture Prize / 2005
Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA) / 2004
Chrysler Design Award of Excellence / 2001
Gold Medal, Los Angeles American Institute of Architects / 2000
Alumni of the Year, USC / 1995
Brunner Prize/ Award in Architecture, American Academy of Arts and Letters / 1992
Member Elect, American Academy of Design / 1992

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