LA vs NY for out of the box designs firms


I am browsing through the job classifieds here on archinect as well as xore77 and a couple other sites and Can’t help but to notice that all the more cutting edge out of the box design firms I’m interested in appear to be in NY : snøhetta, local projects, snarkitechture, ai.o. All doing high quality design work but also some meaningful research, small scalle installation work, or product design. LA by contrast seems to be a (pardon the pun) a barren desert of design-build pursuits and occasional luxury residential developments. I know NY has plenty of that too, but somehow there seems to be none of that other fringe alternative out here in So Cal. I would think that with favorable weather, relatively inexpensive housing (vs NY ad SF of course), and all this industry infrastructure, history of innovative thinking and whatnot, LA would seem to be a clear goldmine for opportunities like that! Am I looking in the wrong places? 

I’ve been working in various LA area architecture firms for Way over a decade now, have gone through B.Arch and M.Arch II and on my experience the closest I can think of to something like that out here is Applied Minds in Burbank. 

I hope I’m not coming off too superficial, but this is a serious question. Perhaps some of you guys understand what i mean?

May 14, 19 12:11 am

I think there's a particular LA brand of experimental design firms that might fir your description (I hope I understood it correctly). Eric Owen Moss, RoTo architects or Morphosis for example.

May 14, 19 7:28 am

A lot of out-of-the box practices are run by architecture teachers and hire mainly temporary student intern labor.   Unless you start your own venture or are willing to work gigs for minimal pay, I'm not sure how many quality job opportunities exist in the out-of-the-box segment.

May 14, 19 11:32 am

@thisisnotmyname - good point. I'm starting to think that that's exactly the case. Coincidentally today my firm had a guest speaker pop in for the lunch hour to talk about some of her work - Doris Sung from DoSu studio - really fascinating, quite genius stuff directly in line with the type of work I was describing. Yet still - most of her work is funded using occasional art and engineering research grants. As for full-time employment, I believe she is a professor at USC. I'm not sure if she employs any of her students, but I Really wouldn't be surprised if she does. 

Moreover, on my record all the more extravagant sciarc/UCLA:AUD/USC professor-ran firms that I ever inquired about myself, or refered other people to, all in unison pretty much offered positions completely free of pay or any form of benefits :(

May 15, 19 9:50 pm

@Gonzalo: yeah, you got it - we are on the same page here. interestingly enough, the three practices you mentioned are all founding fathers of sci-arc. I've had the pleasure of working with a bunch of ex-morphosis people, and they all say that it's a bit of a sweatshop. But to give Thom some credit - he DOES get a lot of work built. the only one of the three you mentioned which I've Never bothered to check up on is Rotondi's office. and his work seems to be pretty interesting. Curiously enough I don't know anyone working there. so.. idk, might be worth an inquiry!

May 15, 19 9:54 pm

I remember hearing Thom say in an interview that back then, at the beginning of that current of architects, NY was the home of regulations and orthodoxy while LA was where experimentation could happen. I don't know what it's like now in LA, but there are some other firms that might not be as radical but still seem to design with sensitivity (I like the work of Brooks & Scarpa, for example)


thanks for the prompt responses to both of you! 

May 15, 19 9:55 pm

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