Despite what you may think, Thom Mayne isn’t the “bad boy” of architecture – at least, not according to Thom Mayne. He sees himself more as a skilled negotiator than a starchitect (a phrase he hates) – after all, he reasons, how else would he have completed so many buildings? In this interview, originally published on Metropolis Magazine‘s Point of View blog as “Q&A: Thom Mayne,” Andrew Caruso and Mayne discuss Morphosis, SCI-ARC, the early days of his career, and his architectural ethos.
Andrew Caruso: Your professional career began in the discipline of planning. What led to the shift toward architecture and your eventual partnership with Jim Stafford?
Thom Mayne: I started working at the Pasadena redevelopment agency doing low cost housing, and that’s where I met Jim [Stafford]. Coming out of USC, I had no background about Mies, Khan or Corbusier, for example. USC was very strong in being anti-historical, looking forward instead of backward. I was essentially naive.
Jim was a year ahead of me at USC and had part of the older regime at the school. When I met him at the planning agency, he started introducing me to history. I got fascinated by [Paul] Rudolph; and then it just took off. Jim guided me through this thought process, reestablishing me in the tradition of architecture.