UCLA Architecture and Urban Design distinguished professor, Thom Mayne, has received the 2013 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal, considered to be among the profession’s highest honors an individual architect can receive. Mayne will be honored in March 2013 at a special event in Washington, D.C. as well as at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver.
Gold Medal recipients are individuals “whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.” Mayne, known for his government and institutional projects, has brought his desire to push the definition of architecture and its role in a community to his UCLA students for more than 20 years.
“I connect research to my professional practice by engaging the UCLA students in real world projects that allow them to apply their intensive research and interact with professionals in the field,” Mayne explained.
Under Mayne's direction, UCLA students have worked on innovative projects for the contemporary city covering the urban landscape of Los Angeles, profound growth of Madrid, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and integrating public policy and urban studies with contemporary culture in “The Culture Now Project.”
Through Professor Mayne’s groundbreaking studios, outcomes have resulted in the 2005 Progressive Architecture Award for “L.A. Now: Volume Three and Volume Four” and the creation of the Float House in New Orleans – the first floating house permitted in the United States and an affordable, sustainable housing project for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right developed in collaboration with Mayne’s firm Morphosis.
In 2012, Thom Mayne established the Now Institute, which is embedded in UCLA Architecture and Urban Design. The Institute confronts the paradigm shift occurring at this moment in the field of architecture and on the constantly changing constitutions of cities and regions. Through yearlong studios, the Institute provides graduate students the opportunity to engage with government agencies and community partners in city-scale research and urban implementation.
Through the Now Institute, Mayne’s current research studio, Haiti Now, seeks to discover what urban planners and architects can do in the long-term rebuilding and recovery effort following the January 2010 earthquake. In November, Mayne and Now Institute director, Eui-Sung Yi, traveled to Haiti with nine UCLA graduate students to explore the role of culture in the reconstruction and community resilience.
In 2013-2014, Mayne, along with world-renowned architects and UCLA faculty Greg Lynn and Frank Gehry, will lead the first set of new SUPRASTUDIOs. Mayne’s studio builds on his previous UCLA research initiatives and will be the investigation of urban strategies to complex problems in modern, advanced metropolises and informal settlements, encompassing cities affected by the challenges of resilience, culture, sustainability and mobility.
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design (A.UD), part of UCLA's School of the Arts and Architecture, pursues issues confronting contemporary architecture and urbanism through its bachelor's of arts program in architectural studies and its four advanced degree programs: the master's of architecture I, master's of architecture II, master's of arts in architecture and doctorate of philosophy in architecture. The programs' primary focus on advanced design is complemented by concentrations in technology and critical studies of architectural culture.