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Thom Mayne

February 27, 2007

Tonight I went to my first lecture in several years. And I didn\’t fall asleep.

The school where I work has a regular lecture series, bringing in notable practitioners and theorists to talk about their work and the current state of architecture. The list of people we bring in is pretty impressive, considering that most of the bigwigs avoid the flyover states like the plague. This quarter we\’ve had Winy Maas, Momoyo Kaijima, and Alex Wall already – and the series was capped off tonight by Thom Mayne.

I stopped going to lectures like these several years ago because I just couldn\’t stay awake through any of them. It didn\’t matter who was lecturing – 5 minutes in and I\’d be out. I even fell asleep for Eric Owen Moss, who is one of the more creative architects practicing today. I didn\’t want to disrespect anyone else, so I just stopped going.

Until tonight. Thom Mayne (who was a visiting professor for my final year of grad school) is too big a figure to ignore – when he shows up, you have to hear what he has to say.
There weren\’t as many students at the lecture as I would have thought – although there were more than enough people to fill just about any room on campus (the lecture was at the Mershon Auditorium, with about 2,000 seats). He identified four issues that he\’s been trying to figure out through his projects (Materiality, Fragmentation, Organization, and Landscape) and looked in a bit more detail at a number of recent projects (including the project in San Francisco pictured above where he managed to not need air conditioning in three quarters of the building – saving a ton of energy in the process).

All in all, he reminded me of why I love architecture. Why I don\’t have the skills of an elite designer, too, but why I love the work they do nonetheless.

More thoughts later – for now, I need to grab a shower before going to bed tonight.

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