"One thing that describes our firm is that we're caught between generations,” says Lisa Iwamoto. She's on speakerphone with her partner—in work and life—Craig Scott, and the two are tag-teaming a conversation, trying to figure out how to explain their practice. They're both professors—she at UC Berkeley (disclosure: where this writer is pursuing her PhD) and he at California College of the Arts. Both graduated from Harvard's Graduate School of Design in the early 1990s. Most important, they were trained in non-computational architecture: Iwamoto with Rafael Moneo and Mohsen Mostafavi and Scott with Rem Koolhaas. That education, under what she describes as “professors who were very building-oriented,” might seem to be irrelevant given their current work, which relies heavily on the computer. But Iwamoto and Scott see their background—as well as her training as a civil engineer—as elements that strengthen their creative positions.
While Iwamoto's specialty at Berkeley is digital fabrication, she sees her teaching as intimately intertwined with her firm's design work. “Teaching keeps it fresh,” Iwamoto explains. “We're constantly pushing students to think about how to be innovative, or coming up with project types for coursework that blurs the boundaries of a discipline.” Challenging students in the studio helps the two challenge each other in the office.