Thom Mayne, Livio Santini, James Stafford and Michael Brickler founded Morphosis in 1972; Michael Rotondi joined in 1975. The firm’s design philosophy arises from an interest in producing work with a meaning that can be understood by absorbing the culture for which it was made, and their goal was to develop an architecture that would eschew the normal bounds of traditional forms. Beginning as an informal collaboration of designers that survived on non-architectural projects, its first official commission was a school in Pasadena, attended by Mayne’s son. Publicity from this project led to a number of residential commissions, including the Lawrence Residence. Mayne describes the early days of the group as more of a “garage band” than a practice. They spent their free time experimenting with new inventions for their clients, whom consisted of friends of friends and parents of students.
When work was at a standstill, Mayne took a year off to earn his Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. He graduated in 1978 and returned to work for Morphosis where he became the principal architect, lead designer and principal in charge for all of Morphosis’ projects. The firm has grown into prominent design practice, with completed projects worldwide. Under the Design Excellence program of the United States government’s General Service Administration, Thom Mayne has become a primary architect for federal projects. Recent commissions include: graduate housing at the University of Toronto; the San Francisco Federal Building; the University of Cincinnati Student Recreation Center; the Science Center School in Los Angeles, Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California; and the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon.
The work of Morphosis has a layered quality. Visually, the firm’s architecture includes sculptural forms. In recent years, such visual effect has been made possible increasingly through computer design techniques, which simplify the construction of complex forms.
Principal architect: Thom Mayne -read more about Thom here
Tom Mayne’s list of recommended/significant architecture:
- Menil Collection, Houston by Renzo Piano
- Sendai Mediatheque, Sendai, Japan by Toyo Ito
- UFA Cinema, Dresden by COOP Himmelblau
- Cartier Foundation, Paris by Jean Nouvel
- Horizontal Skyscraper, Shenzhen, China by Steven Holl
- Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh by Enric Miralles