Page 14

Michael Maltzan  architect 

B A R C H 8 5  A R C H I T E C T U R E

S O C I A L V I S I O N A RY

The spaces and experiences Michael Maltzan creates “bring architecture up to speed with the complexities of contemporary life,” as Architectural Digest puts it. The recipient of a 2012 American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Los Angeles-based architect designs homes, art centers, public housing complexes and landscapes to stimulate and engage users. His buildings are graceful, minimalist and striking, often employing evocative curves and friendly, labyrinthine approaches to entrances, exits and passageways. Founded in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture is an intensely collaborative studio with a strong sense of social responsibility — a value that permeates all of RISD’s programs. Committed to the idea that the poor should benefit from good design as much as the rich, he has embraced commissions like the one for LA’s Inner-City Arts campus as readily as for Michael Ovitz’s Beverly Hills villa. In designing stunning housing for the homeless on LA’s Skid Row, Michael says, “The thing that I was trying to do…was to create a new type of social space. If you could do that for a group of constituents who had pulled themselves away from the community as a whole, the building might start to help them find ways to reintroduce themselves to community living. That’s something that architecture can do.” In another massive public project, Michael is the design architect for the Sixth Street Viaduct in LA, a new bridge and urban park that foresees a multimodal future for the city and will connect the Boyle Heights,

downtown and Arts District communities. Other cultural and educational projects — including a performing arts center at San Francisco State University and MoMA QNS in Long Island City — reinforce his reputation as a social visionary who designs large-scale public spaces that fully resonate with the people who use them. Named one of Architectural Digest’s 100 top talents and a Game Changer by Metropolis, Michael began earning recognition as early as his undergraduate days at RISD, where he received the Architecture department’s top honor: the Henry Adams AIA Scholastic Gold Medal. Since then his firm has been recognized with multiple awards from Progressive Architecture, the American Institute of Architects, the US Green Building Council and the Gold Medal for Urban Excellence from the Rudy Bruner Foundation. Its projects have also been exhibited at major museums worldwide, including the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Los Angeles MoCA, with selected models and sketches included in MoMA’s permanent collection. “Buildings shouldn’t be anonymous,” Michael insists. Consider the unique forms of Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, CA, a 45,000-sf multilevel exhibition space, or his intimate design of a Napa Valley residence, aimed at maximizing the beauty of the surrounding landscape. “For me, whether it’s a museum, a single-family house or social housing,” Michael reflects, “my designs are all ways of describing what contemporary life is in a place like Los Angeles — and by extension, in many cities around the world.”

Profile for Rhode Island School of Design

Working: Diverse outcomes of a RISD Education  

(Updated Fall 2015) Making a creative living means doing what you love to do. This publication explores the many ways alumni of Rhode Island...

Working: Diverse outcomes of a RISD Education  

(Updated Fall 2015) Making a creative living means doing what you love to do. This publication explores the many ways alumni of Rhode Island...

Profile for risd