Ground Up w/ Archinect – good series

San Francisco Federal Building. 6th Street House. Phare Tower. Cooper Union. Caltrans Headquarters. Emerson College. Beverly Hills Restaurants. A short list of Thom Mayne’s must influential projects. While Thom Mayne, and his firm Morphosis, is synonymous with formal virtuosity, skins, Deconstructivists playfulness and artistic inclinations, we could already see a large collection of these ideas even early in his career.

Kate Mantilini, a restaurant in Beverly Hills was one of Thom’s earliest projects and with such freedom, he executed freshly and energetically on a large proportion of the concepts he would later push and become known for. To meet their client’s desire for a clock design, Mayne and Rotondi (his partner at the time) looked at watch mechanisms and motors. They created a sculptural orrery – an old-fashioned mechanical model of the solar system – that projects through a fourteen-foot skylight in the ceiling. One end of the orrery forms a sundial on the roof while the other touches an etching of the restaurant on the restaurant’s floor.

The project contains the signature large metal cut out signage, the interior exterior play of interiority, the neutral dark tones and weight of mass and form that Thom would perfect later on. The restaurant was conceived as a freestanding structure on Wilshire Boulevard, a sophisticated embodiment of the “roadside steakhouse” that was requested by the client.

The project features daylight flooding central spaces from above. While easily a Mayne project from all edges, it is clearly restrained in comparison to other Southern California contemporaries at the time and uses a playful, if not material based irregular modular format in order to achieve much of its aesthetic rhythm; something that Mayne has played with in various forms for much of his career.  The design uses this regularity as a visual cue for sculptural assemblages and nuanced formal moves.

From Kate Mantilini, Thom would jump to his famous 6th Street Residence and Crawford residence to quickly become the image of the Southern California, if not west coast, architectural movement.