The principal architect of LA firm Morphosis, Thom Mayne (born January 19, 1944) 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.
Mayne's experimental streak was visible early on in his career: in 1972, he was part of the group which founded the SCI-Arc school with the intention of developing a world-class independent architecture school along the lines of the Architectural Association in London or the Cooper Union in New York. Also in 1972, Mayne co-founded Morphosis architects; during the firm's early days many of their projects were small commissions for friends. He eventually received his Masters from Harvard University in 1978 and returned as the principal architect and lead designer of the firm, growing it into the internationally renowned practice it is today.
Morphosis is known for their bold designs, striking a balance between sculptural and monolithic forms. In the jury's citation for his Pritzker Prize, his architecture was described as showing a commitment "throughout his career to create an original architecture, one that is truly representative of the unique, somewhat rootless, culture of Southern California."
As such, Mayne is not afraid of challenging conventional notions of architecture, often courting controversy in the process. For example, his recent proposal for a 381-meter tall hotel in the small alpine town of Vals attracted significant criticism, even from the competition jury who publicly distanced themselves from the client's decision; anticipating the heated public reaction, Morphosis' own press release described Mayne as "The Bad Boy of Architecture."
Throughout his career, Mayne has been heavily involved in education and has remained close to SCI-Arc, as well as teaching at Columbia University, Harvard University, Yale University and the Bartlett School of Architecture.
Check out all of Mayne's completed works on ArchDaily via the thumbnails below, and our other coverage of Mayne below those:
Guy Horton dissects a feud between Thom Mayne and LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne, analyzing how prominent architects like Mayne can respond for a better architectural culture.