Monterey Is Gossip Country

Asilomars Julia Morgan-designed lodge

Asilomar's Julia Morgan-designed lodge

The gossip goldmine that is the Monterey Design Conference (held at the lovely Asilomar conference center) has delivered yet again. Somehow all the ocean mist, the fragrant Pine trees and the camp-like atmosphere (not to mention plenty of booze) seem to open up the floodgates that are architects’ mouths. Thom Mayne started the fireworks with tirades against big American firms working in China and Dubai (“HOK, and those other H architects”) against GM (“They have no idea”) and even against rural folk (“all the intelligence in this country comes out of the cities”). Perhaps even more interesting was the war of words launched by some of the older architects in attendance against the fancy young whippersnappers. After mind-bending, and jargon-laden presentations by the likes of Nader Tehrani, Antoine Predock, John Frane, and Neil Denari, William Krisel railed against “talkatects.” “I don’t have fancy words or theories, I just like to draw and build,” said Krisel, not-so-subtly referencing earlier speakers. Later fellow Modern master Ray Kappe worried whether today’s hippest architects really “understand the human being’s relationship to buildings.” He added, “I’ve been to Zaha Hadid’s buildings and I found it a horrible space to stand under.” Snap, that’s some old-school dissing. And all those flying words must have made the designers thirsty. We saw more than one famous architect get drunk out of their minds, in some cases stumbling to their cabins in dissaray. Don’t worry, we won’t name names. Yet.

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