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Morphosis began as an informal
group of designers that banded together in Los Angeles in 1972. They were concerned with postmodern architecture survived on grants for theoretical exhibitions. Their first official commission was a school in Pasadena and today the bulk of this very creative yet staidly steadfast group when it comes postmodern architectures seems to be in the area of designing schools and universities.

Morphosis’s design theory was truly post modern in that anything that was designed was meant to have meaning derived from the culture from which it is made. Our culture is highly industrial and technical looking and the Morphosis group plays frequently with these elements in all of their
designs. Many sculptural forms that either seems to compliment mimic or even insult the surrounding landscape with a buttress, prow or some other type of prominence.
The founder is Thom Mayne who was born in 1944 in Waterbury, Connecticut. He was educated at the University of Southern California (1969) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Mayne also helped found the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) in 1972. Since then he has held teaching positions at both SCI-ARC and UCLA. He is still the principal of Morphosis, the prominent architectural and design group which is located in Santa Monica, California. Mayne received the Pritzker Prize in March 2005, which is a very high honor.
An example of the firm’s sailing loose layered look are the layers of metal and bare steel girders that top the flat top of the Federal Building in San Francisco. It makes it appear as if the building is crowned by several flightily layers of metal.
Yet another famous example is the Graduate Building of the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. This is a large glass box of a building with a large crane like buttress that extends over the road. The effect is that of a perplexing bridge to nowhere.

One of the most photographed and famous of the Morphosis buildings is the Diamond Ranch High School, which is in the Pomonoa School District in California in the U.S. This school is a postmodern masterpiece with flying buttresses, building with narrow pointed prows at their “bows and sweeping slanted glass facades.
This school’s unique appearance has also made it a popular shooting location and it has made appearances in movies such as The Cell, Orange County, Serenity and Live Free or Die Hard.

Since it designed its first schoolhouse in Pasadena, Morphosis has grown into one of the most prominent design practices in the United States, with completed projects worldwide. Recent projects include: the University of Cincinnati Student Recreation Center; the Science Center School in Los Angeles, Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California; and the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon.
The firm’s prestigious and very large team has won hundreds of awards for both commercial and residential design with the kingpin founder winning the bulk of them. Aside from the 2005 Pritzer Prize, Tom Mayne has always won the Chrysler Design Award for Excellence in 2001, the Los Angeles Gold Medal in 2000 and the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
This firm also has many exciting projects in development including The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Satellite Operation Facility, Suitland, MD that is due to be completed this year and the Phare Tower in Paris, France which is a “green building” that is due to be completed in 2012.

Aside from architecture the firm also designs lamps and furniture. Much of it is post modern and hard looking. The famous Nee chair designed at the firm resembles a stiff auditorium chair with a
seat that bevels upwards and a very sharp curving armrest that is made from one piece of metal affixed to the chair frame.
The firm is also well known for its bizarre lamps that look like Jetson’s type cartoon animals (very simplified versions) including a Guard Dog Lamp and a lamp called Whiskas. These lamps are made of wood and thin metal. They have some resemble to old box shaped theatrical lights as well.

Morphosis has also collaborated recently with movie star and architecture buff Brad Pitt to help rebuild homes in New Orleans that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.