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Thom Mayne Wins 2013 AIA Gold Medal
Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012 |

The American Institute of Architects today selected Thom Mayne to be honored with the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor that an individual can receive. 

Laureate of the 2013 AIA Gold Medal: Thom Mayne (Photo: Reiner Zettl)

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Laureate of the 2013 AIA Gold Medal: Thom Mayne (Photo: Reiner Zettl)

Voted on annually, the Gold Medal honors an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Mayne will be honored at a special event in March in Washington, D.C. as well as at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver.

Diamond Ranch High School (1999) in Pomona, CA, a school that places students in the middle of a dramatically pitched canyon of concrete and corrugated metal. (Image: Wikipedia)

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Diamond Ranch High School (1999) in Pomona, CA, a school that places students in the middle of a dramatically pitched canyon of concrete and corrugated metal. (Image: Wikipedia)

Mayne’s commitment to architecture as a journey and not as a destination is evidenced through the forms and materials of his buildings, his personal and professional life, and the name of his firm, Morphosis, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1972. In his own life, he’s evolved from a rugged iconoclast to a collaborative government works mainstay.

The California Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters (2004) in Los Angeles, CA, whose materiality and structural elements allude to the freeway, while its kinetic architecture and facade refers to the automobile. (Image: Wikipedia)

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The California Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters (2004) in Los Angeles, CA, whose materiality and structural elements allude to the freeway, while its kinetic architecture and facade refers to the automobile. (Image: Wikipedia)

In the same year he formed Morphosis, Mayne and several colleagues founded the Southern California Institute of Architecture, or SCI-Arc. Since then, Mayne has had a long record of academic involvement, which has helped to spread his enthusiasm for experimentally pushing architecture’s role in society further into the cultural forefront among decades of students.

The University of Cincinnati Student Recreation Center (2006) which knits together a disparate campus through expansive curvilinear forms. (Image: Wikipedia)

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The University of Cincinnati Student Recreation Center (2006) which knits together a disparate campus through expansive curvilinear forms. (Image: Wikipedia)

An unexpected champion of the federal government’s General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence program, Mayne’s palette of bold, angular forms, exposed structural elements, and double-skin veils that play on notions of dynamic transparency have become trendsetting motifs in a growing number of governmental and institutional projects.

The San Francisco Federal Building (2006), a slender, 18-story tower with a dual facade of glass and a folded and perforated metal skin that is graceful, yet powerful. The building is the first office tower in the U.S. to forgo air-conditioning in favor of natural ventilation. (Image: Wikipedia)

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The San Francisco Federal Building (2006), a slender, 18-story tower with a dual facade of glass and a folded and perforated metal skin that is graceful, yet powerful. The building is the first office tower in the U.S. to forgo air-conditioning in favor of natural ventilation. (Image: Wikipedia)

“He is one of the few architects able to head a large-scale, successful practice while influentially designing theoretical premises,” wrote former AIA Gold Medal Winner Antoine Predock, FAIA, in a letter of recommendation. “The result has been a 40-year body of work that is intellectually rigorous and consistently searching.”

41 Cooper Square (2009) in New York City, a Cooper Union art, architecture, and engineering classroom and laboratory building that inspires interdisciplinary collaboration with a central vertical piazza. (Image: Wikipedia)

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41 Cooper Square (2009) in New York City, a Cooper Union art, architecture, and engineering classroom and laboratory building that inspires interdisciplinary collaboration with a central vertical piazza. (Image: Wikipedia)

In 2009, Mayne was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2009 was the recipient of the Centennial Medal of the American Academy in Rome.

Mayne is the 69th AIA Gold Medalist. Past recipients of the AIA Gold Medal include: Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Louis Sullivan (1944), LeCorbusier (1961), Louis Kahn (1971), I.M. Pei (1979), Santiago Calatrava (2005), Renzo Piano (2008), Peter Bohlin (2010), Fumihiko Maki (2011), and Steven Holl (2012, previously on Bustler). In recognition of his legacy to architecture, his name will be chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA National component in Washington, D.C.



Tags for this entry:
usa, award, aia, prize, morphosis, thom mayne, aia gold medal
Comments:
Mario
USA
Thursday, December 20, 2012
any thoughts on color?

jnderson3, AIA
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I have studied under several noted architects who worked for Le Corbusier and Lou Khan and they all said that although they may have had dysfunctional characteristics, both were genuinely nice human beings. This is contrary to Mr. Mayne who may have the same status as a Le Corbusier or Khan in our new millennium. Let us all remember the recent, insensitive comment by Mr. Mayne about having a party for depressed, unemployed or underemployed architects; what a slap in the face on the thousands of architects in the US who work very, very hard for their clients, take great financial risks day in and day out for a pittance of compensation. Mr. Mayne is truly a great architect - maybe one of the top 3 in the world today and yes I own the Morphosis monogram. However, we would be better off as the AIA institution and a profession not enabling his insults of the rest of us (small) architects by presenting him with accolades and awards. Being a great architect is no excuse for being a lousy, incentive human being. An AIA Gold Medal recipient should be an up-standing ambassador, spokesperson and a shining example for the profession representing the best that AIA has to offer in both design AND PROFESSIONALISM. I am not interested in Mr. Mayne's party and I certainly do not need his sarcasm or pity.

Just being a great designer while we ignore the bad boy attitude is no longer justifiable for praise from our profession. By the AIA putting on blinders and honoring such individuals as Mr. Mayne, we exacerbate and accelerate the demise of the profession's future and the perceived value we bring to our clients. No wonder why we are becoming an extinct, dying breed in the US compared to other professions such as law, medicine, finance and more closer to home, construction management.

Lastly, we need to come to grips that the age of the excess Starchitect is over. As KPF cofounder Eugene Kohn predicted in 2009 that the long-term effect of the recession on design will be the death of the "icon" thus the end of the celebrity architects who design buildings that twist, turn, lean and/or are hunch over - a complete paradigm shift from the last 30 years. We need to move on from the seductions from the likes of Thom Mayne and stop worshiping at the altar of the excessive costs of these twisting, turning and leaning forms. Post-structuralism and its justification for deconstructivism just like non-liberalism,trickledown economics was just an excuse for the concentration of wealth at the top or in our case, the display of that concentration for the top 1%. The whole theory of the post-structuralism that we live in an uncertain world so we should reflect that uncertainty and accompanying anxiety within the spirit of our best buildings is flat wrong. Buildings should give a respite and provide a place of refuge from the complexities of our chaotic, fast moving world.

I challenge the profession to think about what makes a great AIA Gold Medal recipient. Let us further think about selecting someone who respects other architects, especially the not-so-famous ones, does good, solid and meaningful work absent convoluted, juxtaposition forms and is not smug, arrogant or self-rightist. By choosing someone that reflects our standards, morals and demeanor, we can re-assert and promote our true value to our non-architectural friends known as clients and the general public at large - the people who pay the architect's bills.

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