But we're also feeling upbeat about design right now—maybe because we've recently seen so much innovative and inspiring work, presented by some of today's most talented architects.
On a brilliant late-September weekend, more than 600 architects gathered for the biennial Monterey Design Conference (MDC), hosted by the AIA California Council at a rustic compound, originally planned and designed by Julia Morgan, on the California coast. Now in its fourth decade, MDC is the rare architecture event that focuses entirely on design. The stellar roster of speakers included Kengo Kuma of Japan, Odile Decq of France, and Marcio Kogan of Brazil, along with a great American crew—Marlon Blackwell, Anne Fougeron, Thomas Phifer, and Jennifer Yoos, among others—and four emerging West Coast firms. It was a strong showing of beautiful and intelligent work, created by architects deeply engaged in the larger worlds of culture and art, politics and society, nature and cities. Two of the projects presented are included in this issue—architecture schools by Blackwell and Phifer. Among the many other highlights of the conference: a house by Fougeron that cantilevers off a cliff; the elegant pavilions in a rolling landscape that Phifer is designing for a private art collection; the mirrored lavatories in a museum by Decq that she said, with a Gallic shrug, were inspired by Jacques Tati's Playtime; the witty short films Kogan has made to show off the stunning houses designed by his firm, Studio MK27.