Thom Mayne (March 19, 1997)

Eric Owen Moss introduces Thom Mayne through a listing of behavioral tendencies “underneath the architecture”: 1 Architect as pipe-fitter. 2 Architect as sorcerer. 3 Architect as river. 4 Architect as lion. 5 Architect as hand.

Mayne relates his experience and personal history beginning as both an architect and an educator in the late Sixties and early Seventies along with a brief discussion of the origins of SCI-Arc. He elaborates on experiences external to the history of architecture which impacted his understanding including travel and exposure to the work of his contemporaries during his early years. Mayne asserts that architecture is always about asking questions, and that the assembly of a school is about nurturing the next generation.

Mayne goes on to discuss the movement of his work toward a grounding in the relationship between platonic solid and the diversity and complexity of the world and site. He goes on to point out his deliberate re-ordering of the roles of architectural elements and the blurring between light, wall, space, etc. to develop a multivalent vocabulary. These results are in direct relation to a radical swing between a strict adherence to rule sets and extreme hands-on intervention.

Mayne continues his discussion of the shift in architectural language in the transformation of the traditional idea of figure and static ground to one in which the ground is an active and programmatically engaged tectonic plate. As he discusses the development of larger projects starting in 1994 he touches on the role of the computer in the studio’s work and the attack on a linear design hierarchy. He goes on to discuss the breakdown of specific modes of representation to one where plan, section and image overlap their roles, illustrating how this transition has been integrated into his work.

Mayne concludes with a an explanation of projects in progress as of 1997 and summarizes some of the main interests that have developed over the course of his career thus far. He discusses the intent of negotiating between appropriating and redefining land and integrating architectural objects that support the convention of the fabric. He ends with his thoughts on the role of the individual versus the collective in architecture and the inseparability of collectivity and dialogue in his own work.

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