Inspirational Quotes from Thom Mayne

The huge problem in our society is the enormous ignorance of the ideas that underlie modern art.

Thom Mayne

I believe that artistic activities change people. You do effect change. I see architecture as a political, social and cultural act – that is its primary role.

Thom Mayne

I’m a private person by nature. I live in my brain half the time, not the world, and I’m not a natural negotiator. But I’ve learned to negotiate.

Thom Mayne

Look around at day-to-day life for ideas, and it finds its way into your work.

Thom Mayne

Architecture is the story of how we see ourselves. It is the architect’s job to service everyday life.

Thom Mayne

Architecture is a result of a process of asking questions and testing them and re-interrogating and changing in a repetitive way.

Thom Mayne

Our idea of nature is increasingly being determined by scientific developments. And they have become decisive for our image of reality.

Thom Mayne

New York is this cacophony – a collection of radical differences, an agreement of non sequiturs. The diversity and intensity are startling.

Thom Mayne

Architecture is the beginning of something because it’s – if you’re not involved in first principles, if you’re not involved in the absolute, the beginning of that generative process, it’s cake decoration.

Thom Mayne

So we can’t go backwards, we can only go where the evolutionary trajectory is taking us and attune our ideas about ourselves and our existence to that course.

Thom Mayne

No matter what I’ve done, what I’ve tried to do, everybody says it can’t be done. And it’s continuous across the complete spectrum of the various kind of realities that you confront with your ideas.

Thom Mayne

I’ve grown up a little bit. I understand the importance of the negotiation. It is a collective act.

Thom Mayne

Architecture is a negotiated art, and it’s highly political, and if you want to make buildings, there is diplomacy required.

Thom Mayne

Scientific reality is the modern human condition, and you can see that in the symbolic nature of my work.

Thom Mayne

Architecture is involved with the world, but at the same time it has a certain autonomy. This autonomy cannot be explained in terms of traditional logic because the most interesting parts of the work are non-verbal. They operate within the terms of the work, like any art.

Thom Mayne

We only exist in terms of how we think we exist. Meaning every cultural development is fabricated and can be fabricated.

Thom Mayne

So at a time in which the media give the public everything it wants and desires, maybe art should adopt a much more aggressive attitude towards the public. I myself am very much inclined to take this position.

Thom Mayne

I’ve learned that in order to achieve what I wanted, it made more sense to negotiate than to defend the autonomy of my work by pounding my fist on the table.

Thom Mayne

Large-scale public projects require the agreement of large numbers of people.

Thom Mayne

It’s too simplistic to advance the notion of the autonomy of art as a reason for turning away from the public. You can have autonomy and simultaneously have connections with the social and political world.

Thom Mayne

So I am totally aware that when I defend the autonomy of art I’m going counter to my own development. It’s more an instinctive reaction, meant to protect the private aspect of the work, the part I am most interested in and which nowadays is at risk in our culture.

Thom Mayne

I’m often called an old-fashioned modernist. But the modernists had the absurd idea that architecture could heal the world. That’s impossible. And today nobody expects architects to have these grand visions any more.

Thom Mayne

But I absolutely believe that architecture is a social activity that has to do with some sort of communication or places of interaction, and that to change the environment is to change behaviour.

Thom Mayne

The aesthetic of architecture has to be rooted in a broader idea about human activities like walking, relaxing and communicating. Architecture thinks about how these activities can be given added value.

Thom Mayne

Descriptions of my work depress me. They make me feel pinned down.

Thom Mayne

For me the meaning of my work is much more fluid.

Thom Mayne

My buildings don’t speak in words but by means of their own spaciousness.

Thom Mayne

You might say that when you step inside, you’re entering a honorific space, but that’s something totally different than experiencing it. And in architecture the experience comes first. That has the deepest effect on us.

Thom Mayne

I’ve been such an outsider my whole life.

Thom Mayne

The multiplicity of ideas is what I’m interested in.

Thom Mayne

Who I am as an architect and the history of my work – that’s clear to anybody who hires me. But I come in literally with nothing in my brain about what the building will look like.

Thom Mayne

I think a lot of people have the Frank Lloyd Wright model in their brains. The architect comes in with this act of creation and lays it down, and that’s it. But that’s not me.

Thom Mayne

Do I provoke as a method of investigation? Of course. That’s the essence of architecture. Do I do it with gusto? I do.

Thom Mayne

I enjoy working with people. I understand that as a necessity. And clearly that’s something that develops as you get older. And I’ve grown into that.

Thom Mayne

In architecture, you arrive so late. I look at doctors, lawyers I know, and they’re all buying boats and bailing out at 62. My career is just getting started.

Thom Mayne

I fought violently for the autonomy of architecture. It’s a very passive, weak profession where people deliver a service. You want a blue door, you get a blue door. You want it to look neo-Spanish, you get neo-Spanish. Architecture with any authenticity represents resistance. Resistance is a good thing.

Thom Mayne

There is no modern prototype for a campus. You have to have a completely different model which has to do with transparency and exposing social connectivity and breaking down the Balkanization that happens departmentally.

Thom Mayne

In Paris, there has to be a presence. History becomes the most interesting when it’s compared to the present. I mean there’s a whole group of people that want to build new buildings that look like old buildings.

Thom Mayne

I don’t know any architects that I respect who don’t have their own voice. I think the difference between architecture and the other arts is your immersion in reality.

Thom Mayne

I’m not just influenced by the ’60s – it’s who I am. I grew up with Allen Ginsberg and Che Guevara. I flirted with various forms of communism when it was way out of style. It was this really strange and creative time in music and culture, and it was fabulous.

Thom Mayne

Find a place that you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make a lot of mistakes.

Thom Mayne

I think all good architecture should challenge you, make you start asking questions. You don’t have to understand it. You may not like it. That’s OK.

Thom Mayne

I’m interested in conflict and confrontation.

Thom Mayne

I have a preference for rough architecture, real, inexpensive, unfinished.

Thom Mayne

I think my clients would tell you I’m a problem solver. I’m not there to agree with people. I’m there to articulate a point of view. Am I insistent and tenacious? Absolutely. I could not get this work done if I was not.

Thom Mayne

I’m not a tabula rasa type. In some ways, the more constraints I have, the work is more interesting to me.

Thom Mayne

I’ve always been interested in an architecture of resistance – architecture that has some power over the way we live. Working under adversarial conditions could be seen as a plus because you’re offering alternatives. Still, there are situations that make you ask the questions: ‘Do I want to be a part of this?’

Thom Mayne

We’re producing spaces that accommodate human activity. And what I’m interested in is not the styling of that, but the relationship of that as it enhances that activity. And that directly connects to ideas of city-making.

Thom Mayne

Somehow, architecture alters the way we think about the world and the way we behave. Any serious architecture, as a litmus test, has to be that.

Thom Mayne

The age of recalcitrance is over. The best solution is no longer just to regurgitate a 19th-century design.

Thom Mayne

I lived in a state of rage from 12 to 20. Until college, I was beyond an outsider. I was a voyeur of life.

Thom Mayne