Q & A Thom Mayne


Point of view. Metropolis magazine-

Q&A: Thom Mayne

Andrew Caruso

Four Towers In One (Competition)

Courtesy © Morphosis

AC: Had you ever considered that you would start a design school?

TM: No. I think that period of time was much more relaxed. I was doing what I wanted to do; I lived simply. I had my summers off to travel in Europe. I was single, and I was part of that generation in every sense. I was completely captivated in my own education and where we stood at that particular time in history.

At 27, I had no idea who I was as an architect. It was an absolutely ideal situation because I was asking questions just one step ahead, or actually, maybe equal to my students. It was a very interesting time to teach and different than where I am now, when I may rely too much on my experience.

AC: And you quickly began to build a cadre of like-minded colleagues?

TM: We were all broke. I go back to all my buddies and we joke about it. Bernard Tschumi was staying in my studio when he was lecturing at SCI-Arc. Daniel Libeskind shows up and he’s still a kid. Steven Holl and I both had offices without air-conditioning or heating and we used gloves in the winter to draw.

We had this commonality among the whole group of us. We were all starting to practice, involved in our own questions, investigations, and research. We were curious. Inquiry was everything. It totally captivated us. It was 24/7.

AC: What guided you through this time in your career?

TM: It seemed very normal at the time. I was not at all ambitious. I had no idea where I was going and I couldn’t care, really. There were very few plans. I find that young people today are much more focused on some sort of a trajectory. They are much more conscious of where they want to be. I was just the opposite.

AC: It’s interesting that you find teaching during the earliest years of your career more valuable than teaching now.

TM: When I talk to young people who are starting to teach, it gives me a really useful perspective. I tell them to really enjoy it and to avoid insecurity about what they don’t know. This is a plus. They’re defining a generation in terms of what contemporary architecture means. As you get older, you can’t do that.

Teaching had a huge amount to do with my formation as an architect. We probably got more out of it than the students did; I had no idea. When you teach, you’re capable of articulating complex ideas that operate within an emotional, intuitive or private sense. But you learn to translate those because you have to. That’s what you do when you sit with your students.

I divide architects that teach and don’t teach. There’s a line. I can see it immediately.

Read the full article here


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