Monterey Design Conference 2011 Wrap-up

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Photo courtesy of Tibby Rothman

Evening Traffic at the Monterey Design Conference

Yes, it’s over–the Monterey Design Conference, a biannual gathering of architects across the state and speakers from across the world hosted by the AIA California Council and programmed by the Monterey Design Conference committee.

This year, the confab’s main hall was packed with architects who attentively listened to, then discussed, an extraordinary range of ideas and work.

Many thanks to the Monterey Design Conference Committee for producing an inspiring three days–Chair Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, and the committee: Mary E. Griffin, AIA, Roberg G. Hale, FAIA, Micahel A. Enomoto, FAIA, Karen E. Lesney, Assoc. AIA, David Meckel, FAIA, Elizabeth I. Ogbu, Assoc. AIA, Clifford Pearson, Diana R. Whitaker, AIA, and Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC. Also thanks to the hard working AIA staff who provided logistics for the event.

We thought we’d provide a very abbreviated glimpse at the talks by key speakers, then share other links and addresses for other conference coverage care of bloggers and Tweeters.
The Office of Architecture in Barcelona’s Borja Ferrater’s talk was a rapid-fire, humorous but in-depth look at the firm’s work and included inter-generational observations on his father Carlos Ferrater.

Tom Kundig believes that the natural environment is better experienced from small structures rather than large ones.

Tom Kundig’s extraordinary presentation managed to unify and demonstrate how such disparate influences as artist Ed Kienholz, rock climbing, mining machinery and kustom car culture king, Big Daddy Roth all found their way into his distilled sculptural architecture.

David Salmela who presented his prolific body of lyrical work sited across the Minnesota landscape noted the architect’s responsibility of finding the elements that make the place. (Inside story: We overheard an attending architect marvel at how David Salmela’s small firm could produce such an extensive body of work.)

In addition to presenting projects, Michael Maltzan raised the idea that cities could be changed as much by a series of small but powerful projects as much as one central iconic one.

Brigitte Shim who traveled to the conference from Toronto, Canada. Even though Shim was the last speaker at the end of Saturday’s long session, she riveted the audience with her firm’s use of light as a precious resource and noted that Shim-Sutcliffe’s considered approach includes how residences will integrate in the landscape decades into the future.

The program’s final speaker, Peter Walker, FASLA, drew a standing ovation for his quiet determination to comfort the families of 9/11 victims through the recently opened 9/11 memorial in New York. Design at the service of the human spirit.

Amongst other work, Jeanne Gang discussed Hyderabad Tellapur, a residential tower for a client in India

While, this year’s event did not have a set theme, as your blogger, we wonder if Jeanne Gang–the first architect in eleven years to be awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant–and Dr. Dickson Despommier–the retired Columbia Professor who leads the Vertical Farm movement—can be seen as the conference’s tent pole. Taking context from the specific to the universal and back to the specific again as they provide next generational sustainability answers this generation, resolving significant global environmental degradation and challenges through design.

Yet, the greatness of the conference is presentations and informal discussions as inspiration. If you attended, share your perspectives in our comments section here or at the AIA California Council Facebook page or on Twitter@AIACC.

Tweets of live coverage: Twitter@AIACC @AIAInterior

Blog Coverage: Dan Gregory, the former editor of Sunset Magazine, wrote two extensive blogs featuring many images at his Eye On Design.

Catch Part I and Part II. Part I starts with a lengthy introduction to the conference site, Asilomar, but then provides in depth coverage of speakers. They’re both well-worth the read.

Kenneth Caldwell pens a highlights piece for The Architect’s Newspaper. Rumors are that West Coast Editor Sam Lubell will include his thoughts in the paper’s next print issue.



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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