By now you've likely heard about Thom Mayne's destruction of Sci-Fi author Ray Bradbury's storybook 1937 home in Los Angeles' Cheviot Hills neighborhood. Mayne and his wife Blythe yesterday talked to KCRW's Frances Anderton to try to set the record straight. Curbed LA reports that the couple bought the 2,450 square foot, bright yellow home, sitting on a 9,500 square foot lot, last May, and received a demolition permit last month. Since then fans of the author have been up in arms, and rumors have been swirling about the size and scope of their planned residence there. "I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house," said Mayne on Design And Architecture. "It was actually to an extreme." Blythe Mayne added: "It was one of the worst houses in the neighborhood. "We thought it was not keepable." As for saving the original home, Thom Mayne replied, "It's not our responsibility. If somebody wanted to do that it would have been his three daughters or the Bradbury Foundation. (They) had ample opportunity to save the house." And regarding their upcoming plans, Blythe Mayne denied reports of a giant residence, noting that much of the modest home (although not three levels, as some have said) would be dug into the ground. "It's the opposite of a monster mansion," she said. Thom Mayne sees the home as the next generation of Case Study House: "It has to do with scale and landscape," he said, adding that the couple only planned to build 20 percent of what they were allowed to on the site. The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University's School of Liberal Arts is raising funds to recreate Bradbury's basement office. "We never wanted the house to be demolished," the center's director, Jonathan Eller told AN. "But after that happened I learned everything I could about Mayne’s vision, and I am supporting him moving forward from that point. We see a good future for it." The center plans to recreate the 24-foot-by-18-foot office in existing space "to be determined" on the School of Liberal Arts' Indianapolis campus. It won't include the room's original floors, walls, and built-ins, but thanks to donations from Bradbury's daughters and from Pratt Institute professor Donn Albright, it will contain its original furniture, bookcases, artifacts, awards, correspondence, books, and papers. Some of the notable pieces, said Eller, include three of the author's typewriters, his asbestos-bound first edition of Fahrenheit 451, his Pulitzer Prize, and his pewter figure of Buck Rogers. Back in LA, not everyone is happy. "This is an unfortunate event,” Ken Bernstein, Manager at LA's Office of Historic Resources, told Anderton. He admitted that the city missed the home in its inventory of historic structures.
Posts tagged with "Thom Mayne":
One of Russia’s most distinctive pieces of architecture—the 1920s-era Shukhov Radio and Television tower in Moscow—has skirted what appeared to be its imminent death. Earlier this year, news broke that local authorities planned to dismantle the deteriorating, hyperboloid structure, which was built as a communist communications tower. Russian officials said the structure could possibly be reassembled somewhere else, but preservationists didn't buy it. And, at the time, leading architects from around the world—including Rem Koolhaas, Thom Mayne, Tadao Ando, and Elizabeth Diller—signed a petition to stop the tower’s demolition. It’s hard to know exactly what impact that petition had, but something clearly changed in the past few months. The Moscow Times is now reporting that the city has placed the structure on a federal list of protected heritage sites. While this reportedly stops plans to dismantle or relocate the structure, the Shukhov Tower is not entirely in the clear just yet. The tower has been decaying for years and needs close to $14 million in repairs. "The bureaucratic procedure of drafting documents to preserve buildings … is not a guarantee they will be saved," Sergei Arsenyev, the vice president of the Shukhov Tower Federation, told the Guardian. "If they don't allocate money for saving [the] tower, sooner or later it will die." [h/t ArchDaily]
There is a rumor making its way around the West Coast that Thom Mayne may have more than a new building in New York. He may be headed east to become dean of Columbia University, replacing the departing Mark Wigley. But we have also heard—despite his protests that he is happy sailing to Catalina—that Greg Lynn may also be interested in the Morningside Heights position. It could be that Lynn would join his wife, Sylvia Lavin, who has long coveted an East Coast deanship. How about if Mark Wigley and MoMA’s departing Barry Bergdoll simply swap positions? There seem to be no end to the rumors of who may be filling one of the vacant deans posts at Cooper Union, Columbia, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Cranbrook, or the University of Kentucky. We hear that Cooper Union is assembling names and has created a short list (who would want that job now?) that includes the names of several current deans as well as alumnus Daniel Libeskind and philosopher poet Peter Lynch. Then what will happen in the next two years when deanships become available at Penn Design, Yale, and Sci-Arc? Now that Aaron Betsky has left parochial Cincinnati he may be looking for a more hospitable place to work.
Last weekend's Monterey Design Conference had many special moments--beyond those spent walking the spectacular grounds of the Asilomar center on the Pacific ocean. The conference, which is essentially the bi-annual meeting of the California AIA, is trying to re-brand itself the "MDC" in hopes of encouraging the general public to attend. But the conference has been M.C.ed for the past dozen years by Robert Ivy, Chief Executive Officer of the AIA and once again he did a brilliant job (with help from Larry Scarpa) of keeping the event moving along between wine tastings, a small trade show and attendees' desire to escape the darkened conference hall for a walk on the beach. Ivy began the weekend with a bit of AIA news from the AIA Octagon by announcing that (after 50 years of trying) the AIA is reducing its board of directors from 52 down to a more manageable 11-15 members. It has been nearly impossible for a group of this size to meet regularly and a smaller board should be more nimble and allow a reconstructed board "council" to act as working groups to research AIA issues. Ivy also reported that he had just flown in from New York and attended the Clinton Global Initiative where he began a relationship with the organization that will focus on how design can create "a healthier environment." But the real meat of this conference has always been design--celebrating its masters, introducing young firms, and honoring its elders. The first session began with a talk by Fayetteville-based Marlon Blackwell who has spent several decades working in a state he calls "home of Bill and a billion chickens." Claiming he had just "cut his mullet" for the event Blackwell went on to show his well-crafted regionalist projects that he says are placed on a site between the ideal (think Fay Jones' Throwncrown Chapel) and the improvised local jeryrigged landscape. He riffed on his well known TV dish (purchased for two cases of beer) turned dome for his St Nicolas Church project. Next up was emerging San Francisco practice Brian Price who showed multiple digitally rendered projects but thus far his work is mostly unbuilt. He is recently relocated from the Ivy league hothouse of the East Coast and this will hopefully allow him to build and craft a real project. The evening finished with Anne Fougeron showing her elegant residential projects, including a dramatic cantilevered house hanging over a steep Big Sur cliff. The second day began (after 6am "restorative" yoga on the beach) with Thomas Phifer who presented his beautifully detailed institutional and residential projects up and down the East Coast and in Houston. He began his presentation "Outside In: Architecture in the Landscape" with Dan Graham and Michael Heizer images and it was fun to watch this East Coast architect lecture the West Coast on light, reflectivity, and nature while they ogled his hard-edged glass walls. Ivy introduced the young San Francisco practice Future Cities Lab who like their Los Angeles cohorts Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu showed their formal research into media walls, networking ("communicative surfaces"), distribution, and latticed space frames. These young designers are like, many of their generation, more interested in formal research and installations than actual buildings or even social engagement. Further, the work of these young firms is pointedly performative in how it conceives of its practice and presents itself, with the Oyler Wu Collaborative even showing a time lapse video of the construction of their recent Sci Arc graduation pavilion. But the smaller Asilomar break out sessions presented several young practitioners who do wed design and social engagement in a compelling new formulations like computational designer German Aparicio founder of informedCITIES talked about his research on real-time data, systems and networks and how maps, GIS, data visualization, urban sensing can be put at the disposal of design projects. These Pecha Kucha-style sessions also included a convincing talk "Mighty Hand: Hand Drawing Within the BIM Workflow" by Jess Field who went to describe the benefits of hand drawing and what digital renderings leave out like a reference to scale and the human body. The AIA then presented Jack MacAllister with a lifetime Achievement award and he sat in a large chair on the stage and told folksy tales of sixty years of practice. Later that day Odile Decq and Kengo Kuma presented their work which are both highly inventive but could not have been more unlike in built form and materials. Decq showed her black and red designs for the MACRO in Rome, the Garnier Opera restaurant and a sleek yacht design for an Italian client. Kumo eschews contemporary materials for materials (built by local artisans when possible) like wood, adobe, and ceramic tiles that he claims strive for "building that harmonizes with the climate and environment of the place." Both designers had their adherents in the audience as Kuma's traditional materials certainly has affinities with Bar Region traditions and Decq's pure formalism, which resonates with contemporary Los Angels designers. Different groups gave each standings ovations after their presentations. The presentations ended with a warm tribute to Thom Mayne who seemed to be concerned that this awards might harm his "bad boy image," but was described as a warm, supportive, and helpful colleague to younger practices in California.
The California AIA's biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq. But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these "stress traditional design assumptions." Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look "like marshmallows." Next a Pecha Kucha–type session on Technology Serving Design where German Aparicio, CCA and UCLA professor and AECOM architect, presented his "informedCITIES" digital data research on urbanism and how it can be applied to design. Aparicio has done fascinating urban metrics research on pre- and post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. It's great to be at an architecture conference that does not just discuss local or regional issues but brings in the world's most important designers to present work of high quality and offers a 6:00a.m. "restorative wake-up Yoga" session sponsored by Academy for Emerging Professionals.
Just when we thought the troubled MOCA New Sculpturalism exhibition was finally wrapping up relatively smoothly... There has been no official confirmation, but we've heard from several people involved with the show that Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis are now leading the show, not curator Christopher Mount. Participants confirm that emails are now coming from Morphosis, not MOCA, while the show's assistant curator Johanna Vandemoortele last week sent out an email that she had already departed from MOCA. Mount was not available for comment, but Mayne's spokesperson Legier Stahl noted: "It is a collective, community effort. We are just helping to facilitate." Rumor has it that Mayne is considering adding more participants, including Wes Jones, John Enright, Hitoshi Abe, and Qingyun. Stay tuned as the saga continues.
Acting director Caroline Baumann of The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards. The 14th annual Awards program continues the practice of acknowledging excellence and innovation across an array of disciplines. This year’s winners will be recognized during a gala dinner on Thursday, October 17 at New York’s Pier 60 in conjunction with National Design Week, where they will be presented with trophies created by The Corning Museum of Glass. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award recipient is James Wines, founder and president of New York-based architectural studio SITE, who addresses context and environmental issues in his designs. Another big winner is Michael Sorkin, who claims the Design Mind prize for his work in urbanism and green architecture. TED—the nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading"—has been selected for the Corporate and Institutional Achievement prize. For its site-specific projects that act as responses to contemporary issues, Studio Gang Architects-principal Jeanne Gang wins the Architecture Design award. Petragram principal Paula Scher takes the stage as the Communication Design award recipient. Bloomberg, Citibank, and MoMA are just a few on her impressive list of clients. Fashion Design winner Behnaz Sarafpour implements organically produced pieces in her high-fashion and affordably-priced collection. Media design firm Local Project is the Interaction Design award recipient and the Interior Design award goes to Aidlin Darling Design. Margie Ruddick, who employs an environmental approach to urban landscape design, is the Landscape Architecture category winner. The Product Design award recipient is NewDealDesign, a San Francisco-based multidisciplinary firm. This year's jury includes Charles Adler, Gail Anderson, Gisue Hariri, Jon Kolko, Thom Mayne, Zoë Ryan, Christine Ten Eyck, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and Gianfranco Zaccai. The 2013 winners "have made a major impact in their respective fields through groundbreaking projects and visionary ideas," Baumann said in a statement. "They have truly transformed the way we live, think, work, and communicate with each other."
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a blood feud in Los Angeles. It seems that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne doesn’t care for Thom Mayne’s work. At all. Reviewing his new Perot Museum in Dallas, he called the building, “One of the pricey, preening old breed.” Adding, “it is a thoroughly cynical piece of work, a building that uses a frenzy of architectural forms to endorse the idea that architecture, in the end, is mere decoration.” Hawthorne has used this vitriol on other Mayne buildings, like the Caltrans building and the Cahill Center at Caltech, which, he said, employs a “skin-and-stair strategy that allows the client to make the rest of the building—every interior office or gallery—conventional at best and banal at worst.” Mayne, not surprisingly, doesn’t appear happy. In a recent public tour of his new offices in Culver City, led by our friend and design journalist Alissa Walker, Mayne said he would not be allowing a local architecture critic to write about his new building for his firm’s offices—he was asking a science writer to do the story instead. “All local writers are horrible,” he said. “There are no good writers in Los Angeles.” We beg to differ!
On Monday, members of LA’s design and architecture cognoscenti descended on the Tesla store on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to celebrate the official relaunch of KCRW’s DnA (Design and Architecture). The event featured a discussion between DnA host and executive producer Frances Anderton and Elon Musk, the visionary founder-CEO of Tesla and Space X. Those present included Michael Rotondi, Ray Kappe, Thom Mayne, developer Tom Gilmore, and Getty architecture curators Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander. After ten years as a monthly on-air program, DnA will re-emerge as a more comprehensive weekly podcast and blog. To help curate what’s being billed as “DnA 2.0", Anderton is enlisting the talents of local design journalists—or “DJs”—that she has hand-picked. “I’m thrilled that we will increase our coverage of, and participation in this creative community and the work that shapes our lives,” said Anderton. In the discussion Ms. Anderton honed in on Mr. Musk’s hands-on approach to design and innovation and how his operations are solidly based in California. “I like to be close enough to be involved,” he said. “With outsourcing, something we at one time considered, you lose the potential for innovation in the process.” Questions from the audience ranged from whether science fiction played a role in his work—“Definitely Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Heinlein”— to if he could solve LA’s traffic problem. “I’ve got a design for a double-decker freeway worked out,” he said. When a young member of the audience asked about flying cars, he thoughtfully responded that he thought the challenge wasn’t getting the cars to fly but in preventing them from crashing into everything. When asked if he had any advice for architects about getting more visionary buildings erected in Los Angeles, Mr. Musk demurred, saying “I wouldn’t presume to give advice. The problem isn’t the architects. We just need more clients here who want to put up visionary buildings.”
Manhattan Community Board 8 has approved the Cornell Tech Campus plans and launched it one step further in NYC’s public land use review process. The plan for the 12-acre site now moves forward exactly one year after Cornell University, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was selected by the City to develop the applied science and engineering campus. Eagerly anticipating the initiation of its “beta” class, Cornell Tech classes will begin in January of 2013 in Chelsea buildings that were provided to the school free of charge by Google while development of the campus continues. Pritzer Prize winning architect and design director at Morphosis Architects—Thomas Mayne—will be designing an academic building for the new campus along with other notable names such as Skidmore, Owings, and Merril and landscape architect James Corner of James Corner Field Operations. The new campus, which revealed updated renderings in October of this year, will encompass 2.1 million square feet of development, house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students, and will boast a net-zero academic center that produces as much energy as it consumes. Full build-out is expected for 2037 with the first phase—covering 790,000 square feet of development—being completed in 2017. Applications for Cornell Tech’s M. Eng program are currently being accepted.
Add another medal to Thom Mayne's trophy case. Thursday the American Institute of Architects announced that it was awarding him the 2013 AIA Gold Medal. He'll pick it up at next year's AIA convention in Denver, becoming the 69th AIA Gold Medalist. The list of works from his firm Morphosis is way too long to include here, but it includes the diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California; the California Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters in Los Angeles; and 41 Cooper Square in New York City. Meanwhile Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects have been awarded the AIA Firm Award. The architects, who opened the new Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia this year, have also designed (among other heralded work) the former American Folk Art Museum in New York; the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California, Berkeley; and the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.
Cornell University has named 2005 Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as architect for the first building at its Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island called the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. The selection should overshadow some sour grapes that were emanating from Stanford in the past few days regarding their losing bid. Mayne bested an all-star list, including Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, and SOM. The choice of Mayne, whose iconic building 41 Cooper Square still jams traffic at Astor Place, hints that Cornell is looking for a traffic stopper of its own on the East River. "It was a nice list; all the usual talent, but I knew we had a good shot," said Mayne, on his way back to his second home base in LA, "because I could speak intelligently to their three main areas of interest: an innovative educational environment; connective urbanism; sustainability. I can walk the walk." Cornell is developing the site with a proposal prepared by SOM, but there was no mention of the that firm in today's press release, though they remain the master planner for the project. Today's announcement was all about the next step, with Cornell’s dean of architecture, art, and planning, Kent Kleinman praising Morphosis: "No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis.” As AN reported soon after the Mayor announced the winning bid, SOM's ground work tried to establish that the main 150,000 square foot building would not only be a net-zero building, but, in the words of SOM principal Roger Duffy, "not be an object building." Mayne said that the first meetings on plan and program were only now taking place but he said that "nothing is fixed at this point; it needs to be open-ended." The notion of a prescriptive master plan, he noted, went out with Victor Gruen in the 70s. Morphosis will work with Arup as the engineer on the first building, which the team will design to meet a net-zero energy goal; James Corner is on board for landscape. The south end of the island could likely become an architectural playground, with more RFPs soon going out for the other Tech Campus buildings and the soon-to-be completed Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn. Saying the project had come along at just the right moment, Mayne enthused about the opportunities ahead: "The old campus was about the yard or the square. This wants a new paradigm, someplace that is both contained and not contained; simultaneously isolated and completely connected. I love those kind of dualities."