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Interview with Thom Mayne

Morphosis

Interview with Thom Mayne
By Alessandra Orlandoni -

Alessandra Orlandoni - A year ago you received the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious accolade for an architect, and for unflinching commitment to research and innovation in architecture. The ceremony was held in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry. The last American architect to win the award was Robert Venturi, whose theories inspired by Las Vegas still impact architecture today. What has this prize meant to you?
Thom Mayne - You’ve got the speech I gave on accepting the award, right? It’s got everything I believe was important to say.

(from page 3) “...To me, the city is the most profound creation of humanity, continuously changing, evolving, mysterious and therefore in important ways unknowable. In its lack of fixity, in the unthinkable number of its random interactions, exchanges, encounters, in the sheer magnitude of the variety of intelligences, here rests the potential of a true creativity where serendipity and spontaneous combustion take place. This, I believe, is why cities are the stronghold of our liberal tradition in this country. Our cities are the location of continuous regeneration, places of infinite possibilities, demanding from us an attitude of expansiveness. Yet we seem to find ourselves, in this first decade of the 21st century, infused by fear, immobilized by the complexity of the realities that come with living in the present, the now, insisting instead on seeing our diverse society through a simplistic lens, resistive to reality, demanding uniformity in the face of diversity.
And the refuge, as its always been within these cycles, is in nostalgia, a desire for an illusion of order, consistency and safety, qualities we last enjoyed in childhood.
This is temporary. I’ve lived during periods of great cultural expansion and optimism. I’ve felt the intoxication that happens when an entire generation decides to stop looking backward for its direction. I see in...

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