Open-Minded Emerging Firms Don't Discriminate When it Comes to Work

Event: Architectural League Emerging Voices Series
Location: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 03.28.08
Speakers: Hagy Belzberg, AIA — Principal, Belzberg Architects (Santa Monica, CA); Michael Meredith, Hillary Sample — Principals, MOS (New Haven, CT, and Boston, MA)
Organizer: The Architectural League of New York

Ahmanson Founders Room

Belzberg Architects’ Ahmanson Founders Room.

Benny Chan, Fotoworks, courtesy Belzberg Architects

Whether through its work, a focus on a certain building type, or a philosophy about finding design solutions, every firm aims to make its name emerge amidst contemporaries. Regardless of intention, an architect’s client base also plays a role in crafting that image. Projects are “an example of how client influence affects a firm,” according to Hagy Belzberg, AIA, principal of Belzberg Architects. Both Belzberg Architects and MOS Architects carry a portfolio of work that they attribute to a wide variety of clients.

With patrons ranging from Target Corporation to Belzberg himself, Belzberg Architects’ projects don’t fit into just one category. At the Conga Club, a Latin-themed restaurant and dance club in Los Angeles, an array of faceted panels and LED lights were introduced inspired by the patterns found in the establishment’s artwork. The ceiling defines the space that expands or contracts in scale responding to the density of occupants in a variety of overlapping programs. For the Los Angeles Music Center, the Ahmanson Founders Room for the center’s V.I.P.’s is located in a parking garage. Using scripting and CNC modeling techniques, walls of backlit, perforated metal panels transformed a windowless room with spatial dividers and furniture milled into wave patterns inspired by theatrical curtains.

For professors Michael Meredith and Hillary Sample, partners of MOS, every design opportunity should be tested. “We built a practice out of marginal projects,” Meredith said. For a temporary puppet show theater located beneath Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center in Boston, white triangular plastic panels create a reflective surface in the interior for miniature performances, while the hollows of the structure on the exterior incorporates planted moss. Total chance — a client dialed a wrong number when calling another firm — was a catalyst for the recently completed Floating House on Lake Huron. The two-story guesthouse plays on vernacular lake residences with cedar plank siding that dissolves into screens to filter daylight into the interior. The structure floats on a metal truss framework and hollow tubes, so the building rises and falls with the tides.