Make your own free website on Tripod.com

URBANICITY.info

THOM MAYNE: AN ORIGINAL.

WELCOME TO URBANICITY
SENSING URBANITY
LISTENING FOR WORDS
VIEWING IMAGES OF MYSTERY
LOVING MUSIC
READING FOR LIVING
CELEBRATING THE MIND
TRAVELING TO EXPLORE
SEARCHING THE FUTURE
MAKING A DIFFERENCE

thommayneschool.jpg

Thom Mayne, the 2005 Pritzker Prize Architecture Laureate, is the first American to win the prize in 14 years. Head of the firm Morphosis in Santa Monica, he was startled at the news, for he's known as an outsider in his field. Mayne sees the prize as a mandate to keep agitating.

The name of his firm suggests constant change; he likes to push hard. He says "There is no singular idea of what is beautiful. I'm a problem-solver. I'm not there to agree with people, but to articulate a point of view."

Only in recent years has the idiosyncratic designer gained visibility with large-scale projects. That's not to say his work is always popular. He came out on top in the Alaska Capitol design competition, but some Juneau leaders complain that his dome looks like a boiled egg.

His first influential project was the Crawford House in Montecito, California, with redwood totems topped with skylights. Then he tackled the 1.2 million-square-foot CalTrans headquarters in Los Angeles. He cantilevered the upper floors and mechanized the building's perforated skin to adjust to the light throughout the day and become transparent at night.

In Manhattan's Cooper Union he crisscrossed the central atrium with sky bridges. In a New York Times review by architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, Mayne was praised for his social optimism and "enthusiasm for the congestion and dynamism on with cities thrive."

Other break-through projects are the Federal Building in San Francisco and the Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California– where he set rows of fragmented buildings on either side of a long canyon-like sidewalk.

He's left his architectural mark in Austria, Taipei, Taiwan, and South Korea. Besides lots of residences and office buildings, he's working on the Cahill Center for Astrophysics at Cal Tech, an Olympic Village in Queens, New York, a housing project in Madrid, and, yes, there's that Alaska dome, to be completed in time for the state's 50th birthday. The busy guy also teaches at UCLA.

He got his architecture degree form USC in 1968 and began his career as an urban planner. With five other architects, he formed a new school, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and then started up Morphosis.

The Pritzker jury said "Mayne's approach toward architecture and his philosophy is not derived from European modernism, Asian influences or even from American precedents of the last century.

"He has sought throughout his career to create an original architecture, one that is truly representative of the unique, somewhat rootless, culture of southern California, especially the architecturally rich city of Los Angeles."

The Pritzker prize comes with a $100,000 grant and a bronze medal, which Mayne received on May 31 in Chicago's Millennium Park. The ceremony took place in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, named for the founder of the prize and designed by Frank Gehry (who won the prize in 1989). Gehry says he doesn't think of Mayne as an insurgent so much as an individual. "He's a really authentic architect. He's developed his own space and language."

Photo: Mayne's acclaimed Diamond Ranch High School.

Return to "Sensing Urbanity"

Remain curious.