Architect and educator Tom Wiscombe has made major inroads as SCI-Arc's BArch chair to establish a stronger connection to the humanities and critical theory in architecture education, founding the school's Liberal Arts Program last year and bringing in contemporary philosophers and theorists to spark new dialogues. We discuss his role in the southern Californian architecture culture (particularly in regards to MOCA's 2013 New Sculpturalism show), how he prioritizes theory in architectural practice and education, and his ongoing Main Museum of Los Angeles project in the city's enlivened downtown.
Source by Archinect
Lecture date: 2013-01-18
DRL Keynote Lecture
Born in La Jolla, California in 1970, Tom Wiscombe is a licensed architect living in Los Angeles. He is the founder of Tom Wiscombe Design, an international architecture practice. His work is known for its synthesis of form, pattern, colour and technology into singular, irreducible constructions. Wiscombe is a senior faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He currently holds the Louis I Kahn Visiting Assistant Professorship at Yale University.
Patrik Schumacher discusses current developments of generative design, illustrating points with recent Zaha Hadid Architects projects including the Galaxy Soho in Beijing, the Central Bank of Iraq, and the Petroleum Studies and Research Center. He stresses how parametric design not only produces highly efficient buildings in terms of structure, materials and functionality, but also generates vital but coherent urban spaces. Tom Wiscombe argues, in contrast, that the task of architecture is to create something so alien that it cannot be consumed, illustrating his points with recent projects including the Guggenheim Helsinki, the Griffith Park House, Diamond City in Adelaide, the Kinmen Passenger Service Center, and the Main Museum of Los Angeles Art. He argues for a flat ontology, against hierarchical or sequential organization, and proposes deeper engagement with the architectural detail. In conversation, Schumacher challenges Wiscombe to defend his work as something more than personal creations, and Wiscombe challenges Schumacher's promotion of a single formal vocabulary. The two speakers respond to audience comments regarding collage, deriving general rules from specific designs, expressing or not expressing structure, formalism and parametric engagement with the social.
Jeffrey Kipnis begins the fourth of the Fecundity of a Mossy Climate conversations with a survey of Marcelo Spina’s work, from the 2002 Busan Tower to the 2014 entry by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S in the competition for two new museums in Budapest. Spina and Tom Wiscombe and Wolf Prix join Kipnis, and discuss Spina’s work, the concept of elegance, the exploitation of architects via competitions, the significance of tools, strategies, and career trajectories.
Eric Owen Moss outlines the background of the competition, in which a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs created the opportunity to create a four-year pavilion that would be used not only for SCI-Arc's commencement but for community events. Each of the competition participants (Marcelo Spina, Elena Manferdini, Ramiro Diaz-Granados, Tom Wiscombe) briefly describe his or her project. Moss challenges each of the participants to clarify their explanations, prompting a discussion of siting, communicating to different audiences, and open versus closed systems. Marcelo Spina suggests that the competition format leads designers to modify their work according to intuitions about jury preferences and prejudices. This prompts a discussion of different strategies for dealing with competitions. Moss concludes with a summary of the jury's response to the four projects.
Todd Gannon moderates a discussion with nine entrants from SCI-Arc in the Guggenheim Foundation’s 2012 competition for a museum in Helsinki: Eric Owen Moss (Eric Owen Moss Architects), Ivan Bernal (Xefirotarch), Margaret Griffin and John Enright (Griffin Enright Architects), Hsinming Fung and Craig Hodgetts (Hodgetts + Fung), Florencia Pita (Pita & Bloom), Jenny Wu (Oyler Wu Collaborative), Russell Thomsen (Idea Office), Tom Wiscombe (Tom Wiscombe Architecture), and Wes Jones (Jones, Partners: Architecture). Gannon begins with an attempt to categorize them by formal strategies, and then invites the panelists to respond to his categorization. Wes Jones’s assertion that entries need to be strategized based on knowledge of the jurors prompts a general discussion about architectural competitions. From the audience, Thom Mayne challenges the panelists to articulate what their project’s position was, and each panelist responds.
Greg Otto opens the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA)'s panel discussion of the current state of design and design tools. Marcelyn Gow discusses the disconnect between exacting processes and illegible outcomes. Tom Wiscombe argues for mystery, autonomy, critically breaking or misusing tools, and the exploration of architecture's capacities. Alvin Huang discusses his work in terms of an exploratory practice focused on designing with technology. Roland Snooks discusses his explorations as a way of undermining the discrete reading of architectural elements. The panelists respond to a question posed by Greg Otto on digital tools and architectural fundamentals. The panelists respond to audience comments on issues that remain relevant or arise as new problems.
Michael Stock introduces this installment of the SCI-Arc Cinema Series, featuring a screening of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) preceded by a conversation with its production designer, Rick Carter, and Tom Wiscombe. As a preface to the live conversation, Stock presents a brief clip from a documentary about the film’s production.
Tom Wiscombe and Rick Carter discuss the transition from the classic Hollywood art direction to present-day production design. Carter stresses collaboration over technology: attending to the central vision, and drawing forth information from others. The iterative process refines the vision, and ensures details relate organically to the story. Carter speaks of setting up moments in a journey, contributing to the “filmscape,”, i.e. not the story or the characters so much as where you go, and how you feel about it. He describes the challenge of working with Renzo Piano and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, trying to create a cinematic experiences that’s not a not a ride or theme park.
Monday, February 29, 2016 at 6:30pm
Decafe, Perloff Hall
Distinguished Alumni Lecture 2015-16
Principal, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, Los Angeles
Born in La Jolla, California in 1970, Tom Wiscombe is an Architect living in Los Angeles. He is founder and principal of Tom Wiscombe Architecture, an internationally recognized design practice. His work stands out in terms of its arresting formal and graphic qualities, its mysterious near-figural features, and its tectonic inventiveness.
He is currently working on the high-profile Old Bank District Museum with Developer Tom Gilmore in the historic core of Los Angeles, and is focused on cultural, entertainment, and sports projects. Wiscombe is Chair of the B. Arch. Program and Senior Faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Previously, Wiscombe worked for Coop Himmelb(l)au, where he was the right hand of Principal Wolf Prix for over 10 years and built four critically-acclaimed projects totaling over 125,000 square meters.
50 Years of Advancing Design, Technology, and Culture
During its 50-year history, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design has been an innovator in identifying what architects are taught. From the invention of 3D computer programs; to the integration of sustainability in a design curriculum; to the incorporation of large scale CNC robotics in a school of architecture in the world; the Department has critically defined the topics, curriculum, and knowledge necessary to keep its graduates relevant in a changing world. During 2015-16 we will celebrate our 50th year by honoring the Department’s faculty and their many innovations and accomplishments with a series of presentations and conversations.
After describing his interest in flat ontology and how a building hits the ground, Tom Wiscombe discusses surfaces becoming volumes, illustrating different strategies with projects including the Busan Opera House (2011), and the MOCA pavilion (2013). Under the category of Objects wrapped in objects Wiscombe talks about his Urban Beach for P.S. 1 (2003), the National Library for the Czech Republic (2007), the redevelopment of docks in Kaohsiung (2010), and a housing project for New Rochelle (2013). Wiscombe concludes with a discussion of projects that explore tattooing, Lo Monaco House, Lugano (2012), the Diamond City scheme for Adelaide (2013), and the National Center for Contemporary Arts in Moscow (2013).
Tom Wiscombe, founder of EMERGENT, a Los Angeles-based firm internationally known for operating at the forefront of digital design, spoke at Texas A&M's Architecture Lecture Series April 25, 2011.
EMERGENT's work is driven by models of biology and computation, as well as by contemporary design sensibilities.
The May 2009 issue of ICON Magazine called Wiscombe "one of the top 20 architects in the world who are making the future and transforming the way we work."
Wiscombe also worked with students in the inaugural Mitchell Lab Visiting Designer Program, made possible with funds from the $2.3 million Mitchell Initiative, a gift funded by the Bryan N. Mitchell family, owners of History Maker Homes in Fort Worth.
Students worked as a group with Wiscombe to create a futuristic housing prototype with special attention to technology's role in the design.
For more about Wiscombe's visit and the Mitchell Lab, visit http://archone.tamu.edu/college/news/newsletters/spring2011/stories/MitchellLab_housing.html.