The principal architect of LA firm Morphosis, Thom Mayne was the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, and is known for his experimental architectural forms, often applying them to significant institutional buildings such as the New York’s Cooper Union building, the Emerson College in Los Angeles and the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters.
The October issue of a+u introduces 14 recent works from around the globe. In particular, the issue is focused on architecture that emerged from the relationship with the urban structures or the developmental history of the site. Over time, they influence and transform the surrounding environment. Architects employ diverse “tactics” in order to create such architecture: collaborating with the residents, relating to the neighboring buildings and open spaces, diversifying the building’s programs, and employing intricate construction details. In this issue, we focus our attention on the process of conceiving the projects driven by various tactics. We invite our readers to look beyond a single building and examine the works’ possibilities to be used in a long span of time.
In this 1996 lecture Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne describes his views of architectural theory and his unique approach to the architectural process at a time when firms had begun the transition to 3D digital models. As one of the founders of Santa Monica based firm Morphosis, Mayne speaks about the evolution of their built and unbuilt projects in the late 70s and early 80s by giving insights into three general topics including objects, context, and the role of nature in architecture. His discussion touches on everything from music and art, to philosophical questions regarding the process of architecture and its role in society.
In the development of his first projects, Mayne reveals a preoccupation with objects, their materials, and their relationship to the craft of architecture. He also describes how context shapes his designs, using the example of his Sixth Street House of 1983. For him, the project’s site in Los Angeles was particularly influential to his work in the way that it is a “prototype of the modern metropolis” in which “…there’s no inside, there’s no outside, there’s no way of perceiving it, its growing, its moving, its changing, quicker than one can absorb it.” These notions of context were reflected in many later works, and tied into his interest in “the space between randomness and order.”
In honor of Thom Mayne’s birthday today, we’re sharing this video interview from Danish Website Louisiana. In it Thom Mayne introduces his building at 41 Cooper Square by saying “I wanted to produce something that was off, and was not at all systematic in any normal architectural sense.” Ultimately, the form of the building is, he says, an attempt to engage with New York City, understanding Cooper Union as a key part of the city’s incredible intensity of intellectual creative capital. He also discusses how the building – despite its avant garde form - won over the local community. Enjoy!
New information has been released — along with a series of renders — seven months after the New York City Council approved Cornell University’s two million square foot technology campus in Roosevelt Island. Envisioned as “a campus built for the next century,” Cornell Tech’s first set of buildings has tapped into the talent of some of the most respected architecture firms in the city: Morphosis‘ Pritzker Prize-winning Thom Mayne, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, Handel Architects, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill.
New images of the buildings, after the break…
Morphosis Architects has been selected from a shortlist of three to design the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) chose Morphosis over Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam with AECOM after conducting a series of presentations and interviews in the third round of the international competition.
“Morphosis presented a strong, cohesive team with over 50 years of collaborative experience. Their presentation demonstrated the management and design approach required to successfully execute this project, as well as a thorough understanding of the importance and impact of an American Embassy in Beirut.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has shortlisted three design teams for the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon for Stage 3 evaluation. The project is part of OBO’s Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative in which seeks to provide safe and functional facilities that represent the best in American architecture. The shortlisted teams are:
To celebrate the start of a seven-month land use review process, Cornell has released preliminary renderings of the first academic building planned for Cornell Tech – the new world-class technology and entrepreneurship campus in New York City that was masterplanned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).
The modern campus strives to rethink academic workspace, prioritize environmental performance, and exploit the unique urban condition of Roosevelt Island. In May, Pritzker Prize laureate Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, was appointed as architect of the first landmark building, which will set the stage for the carbon positive campus.
Continue after the break to learn more.
Today, Cornell University has announced their selection of Thom Mayne and Morphosis to design the first academic building for the CornellNYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded the Roosevelt Island campus project to Cornell mid-December of last year. With plans to achieve net-zero, the campus is striving to become the new modern prototype for learning spaces worldwide.
“This project represents an extraordinary opportunity to explore the intersection of three territories: environmental performance, rethinking the academic workspace and the unique urban condition of Roosevelt Island,” Mayne said, as reported by Cornell University. “This nexus offers tremendous opportunities not only for CornellNYC Tech, but also for New York City.”
Continue reading for more.
After Mayor Bloomberg, Cornell President Skorton and Technion President Lavie announced Cornell’s victory over Stanford to build an eleven acre state-of-the-art tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the team has now tackled their next step in choosing six high-profile architecture firms competing to design the schools first academic facility.
Selected from over more than 40 firms from the U.S. and abroad, the finalists include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Morphosis Architects, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Continue reading for more information.
This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to Shanghai. Shanghai is noted for having more Art Deco buildings than any other city, including László Hudec’s Park Hotel, which is not on our list but will be added in a future guide. Like many cities in China, Shanghai’s rapid growth has meant a boon in contemporary architecture styles. We put together a list of 12 modern/contemporary buildings that we feel provides a good starting point. It is far from complete. There are dozens of other great buildings that are not our list, and we are looking to add to the list in the near future. Please add your favorites in the comment section below so we can add them on the second go around. Again thank you to all our readers who sent in their suggestions and photographs. The city guides would not be possible without your help.
SCI-Arc, Los Angeles’ cutting edge architectural institute, has just announced Thom Mayne as the newest Trustee of the board. Mayne’s addition to the board emphasizes SCI-Arc’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional architectural form and theory. Back in 1972, Mayne co-founded the institute along with seven faculty members and approximately forty students who left Cal Poly Pomona to form a “a college without walls.” For the past nearly four decades, Mayne has been an integral part of the university, serving as a juror, lecturer and generous supporter of the school. ”Thom Mayne is the quintessential SCI-Arc architect. His addition to the board is indicative of the fact that SCI-Arc continues to re-imagine the content of architecture,” said Director Eric Owen Moss. According to SCI-Arc, this appointment complements a series of events that have prompted the school’s growth both physically and programmatically.
Morphosis Architects is currently completing a massive project in Shanghai: The Headquarters and offices for Giant Group, including residence for the chairman & all Giant Group employees, hotel, training center and clubhouse, with a total of 258,300 sqf (23,996 sqm).
Thom Mayne’s architecture has pushed building techniques in order to take his organics form to reality, and I think that the best way to understand his projects is not through renders or even drawings, but by watching the structure and the construction progress.
After the break drawings and several photos during the construction phase of this almost completed project in China:
Location: New York, USA
Architecture: Morphosis Architects
Thom Mayne, Principal / Design Director
Silvia Kuhle, Project Manager
Pavel Getov, Project Architect
Jean Oei, Job Captain/ Project Designer
Chandler Ahrens / Lead Designer
Project Designers: Natalia Traverso Caruana, Go-Woon Seo
Project Team: Irena Bedenikovic, Salvador Hidalgo, Debbie Lin, Kristina Loock,
IT Co-ordinator: Marty Doscher
Project Assistants: Ben Damron, Graham Ferrier
Model Team: Reinhard Schmoelzer with Patrick Dunn-Baker, Charles Austin, Sean Anderson, Domenique Cheng, Soohyun Cheng, Eui Yeob Jeong, Amy Kwok, Shannon Loew, Brock Hinze, Hugo Martinez, Greg Neudorf
Associated Architect: Gruzen Samton
Owner’s Representative: Jonathan Rose Companies
General Contractor: FJ Sciame
Client: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Program: Academic and laboratory building with exhibition gallery, auditorium, lounge and multi-purpose space, and retail space
Constructed Area: 16,258 sqm
Design Year: 2004-2006
Construction Year: 2006-2009
Photographs: Iwan Baan