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Thom Mayne and Morphosis


Morphosis (1973) is a Californian architectural studio based in Santa Monica, founded by Thom Mayne (1944) with J. Stafford, who left the studio shortly thereafter. 

Mayne, who graduated in architecture in 1968 at the University of Southern California and took a master’s degree at Harvard ten years later, is a founding member of Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architectura); he won the Pritzker Prize in 2005.

Morphosis rose to success in 1976 with the arrival of Michael Rotondi (1949): under the direction of Mayne and Rotondi (who left in 1991 to found RoTo Architects), Morphosis “grew significantly, becoming a landmark for architectural culture beyond California” (Gibello).

Some of their work in the eighties had a major impact on criticism in the discipline and was further consecrated when it was exhibited in the “Deconstructivist Architecture” exhibition at MoMA in New York in 1988.

One of the keys to their philosophy is “an experimental approach to design”. 

The Los Angeles area, where the studio started out, is multiform, complex and unstable, even in terms of landscape and plate tectonics: Morphosis addresses each individual case in terms of its environmental features and the client’s specific needs, aware that it cannot apply universal principles valid for all times and places.

The result is a series of famous homes and restaurants in California: the homes include Mexico II in Baja (1978), homes 2-4-6-8 (1978) and the Lawrence home in Santa Monica (1981); their restaurants include 72 Market Street in Venice (1983), l’Angeli in Los Angeles (1984), and Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills (1986).

In their work, Morphosis also attempts to absorb the historic spirit of the site, in “a relationship played out entirely on an intellectual level, recalling particular archaeological presences and symbolic affinities”: in this way, constructions maintain their value as a “unicum” and are stratified without any particular links with the existing context.

Morphosis now has a staff of more than 50 professionals working on projects all over the world, and has received dozens of awards. According to Mayne: “I’m willing to give up building a project, but I won’t give up developing the concept (...) In a number of recent projects I have gone down a different road [from the client] without feeling lost at all”.

Thom Mayne and Morphosis famous works and projects

- Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas (USA), 2013
- Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine, New York (USA), 2012
- San Francisco Federal Building, San Francisco (USA), 2007
- Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse, Eugene (USA), 2006
- Hypo Alpe Adria Bank Spa, Tavagnacco, Udine (Italy), 2006
- Campus Recreation Center Università di Cincinnati, Cincinnati (USA), 2005
- Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, Los Angeles (USA), 2005
- Hypo Alpe-Adria Center, Klagenfurt (Austria), 2002
- St. George Campus student residence, University of Toronto (Canada), 2001
- Diamond Ranch High School, Pomona (USA), 1999
- Sun Tower, Seoul (Korea), 1997
- 6th Street Residence, Santa Monica (USA), 1997
- Salick Healthcare Office Building, Los Angeles (USA), 1991
- Crawford Residence, Montecito (USA), 1990
- Leon Max Showroom, Los Angeles (USA), 1988
- Post Nuclear Club, Laguna Beach (USA), 1987
- Cedar Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, (USA), 1987
- Restaurants: 72 Market Street, Venice, California, 1983; Angeli, Los Angeles, 1984; Kate Mantilini, Beverly Hills (USA), 1986
- House III, Venice, California (USA), 1982
- Expansion on the Sedlak home, Santa Monica (USA), 1980

Official web site


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