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When it comes to glamping for architects, there is no better place than the biennial Monterey Design Conference (MDC), hosted by AIA California, to be held this year on the weekend of October 28-30, back in person for the first time since 2019.

The venue, the Asilomar conference center on the Monterey peninsula, offers architects the experience of adult summer camp: the chance to shed their black designer outfits for jeans, sleep in rustic (but not too rustic) cabins, and gather around a bonfire at night, all while spending their days listening to some of the world’s most fascinating architects present their best work.

Merill Hall, interior Bijoy Jain.

Merrill Hall, interior. Photo courtesy Monterey Design Conference

Asilomar’s stunning main hall was designed by Julia Morgan, who also created eleven other buildings on the rambling, 107-acre beachside enclave, originally built in the early 20th century as a YWCA camp. An arts-and-crafts structure, the lofty interior of the stone Merrill Hall is dominated by ornate redwood trusses and clerestory windows.

It’s there and in a satellite building that up to 900 architects will gather this year to hear a particularly broad international roster of speakers, from Latin America, India, Africa, China, Europe, and the U.S. They include Bijoy Jain (New Delhi); Sandra Barclay (Lima, Peru); curator of Venice's Architecture Biennale, Lesley Lokko (Accra, Ghana); Yung Ho Chang (Beijing), and Alison Brooks (London). Joining them from the U.S. will be Deborah Berke, winner of the 2022 Topaz Medallion and dean of the Yale School of Architecture, who runs a practice in New York; Jing Liu and Florian Idenberg, of the New York firm SO – IL; Lorcan O’Herlihy from Los Angeles, elder statesmen Herb Greene and James Wines (of the New York studio SITE), as well as emerging talent from California Karin Liljegren, Kristin Korven and Jeff Kaplon, Síol Studios, and Antje Steinmuller and Neeraj Bhatia.

Asilomar exterior.

Asilomar’s conference center, exterior. Photo courtesy Monterey Design Conference

MDC was first convened in Monterey in 1979 by the architect and impresario Richard Saul Wurman (who would go on to invent the TED conferences); he called it “Design 101” because the speakers were all from the states traversed by Highway 101—California, Oregon, and Washington. The first cohort were almost all men, including Frank Gehry and the young Thom Mayne. In the mid-80s, the event moved from the local convention center to its current picturesque site.

The 2022 edition of the conference will once again be moderated by Reed Kroloff, dean of IIT (and recent contributor to RECORD's Chicago Guide), who this year is joined by design journalist Frances Anderton.

Architectural Record is a media sponsor of the Monterey Design Conference.

Monterey Design Conference Headliners:

Headliner Bijoy Jain.


Headliner Deborah Berke.


Headliner Lesley Lokko.


Headliner Yung Ho Chang.


Headliners Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg.


Headliner Alison Brooks.


Headliner Lorcan O'Herlihy.


Headliner Sandra Barclay.


Headliners at this year’s Monterey Design Conference: Bijoy Jain (1), Deborah Berke (2), Lesley Lokko (3), Yung Ho Chang (4), Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg of SO – IL (5), Alison Brooks (6), Lorcan O'Herlihy (7), Sandra Barclay (8). Photos courtesy Monterey Design Conference, click to enlarge