The partnership of Florencia Pita (right), 40, and Jackilin Hah Bloom, 43, is young and untested. The work featured on their website is entirely speculative, unbuilt, and, at first glance, has a dizzily biomorphic aesthetic. Both partners teach at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), a hothouse for experimentation, and have practical experience working for other architects, most notably Greg Lynn, himself something of a visionary. At Lynn’s office, where Bloom spent nearly a decade and Pita several years, they collaborated on projects large and small, including flatware design and an entry to the 2002 World Trade Center competition. “We had this dynamic working relationship back then,” Bloom says. “It seemed really natural for us to move into our own practice working together on large competition projects.”
Look closely at their renderings of irregularly shaped buildings, distinguished by a color palette that is shockingly bright, and you’ll notice something more subtle at play: “I think that ornament is at the core of the research that we work on,” Pita says. “We do embrace ornament.” Adds Bloom, “We’re looking into printing, graphics, and super intense coloration on different types of panelized systems.” According to Lynn, both women got a five-year jump on the current obsession with 3D printing and other computerized fabrication techniques at his office. “They’re gearheads,” he says, a compliment more commonly given to men. But Lynn argues that Pita and Bloom are of a generation in which enthusiasm for technology cuts across gender lines. “Its one of the really great things about them,” he says. “They’re really into rethinking the way things get made.”
One of the things they’re rethinking is ceramic tile. Pita and Bloom are interested in applying photographic images and patterns to tiles and other forms of cladding. In a Maribor, Slovenia–based housing proposal, they suggested turning printed tile into an ingenious roofing material, “where each tile is a pixel, completing a geological satellite image,” as they describe it on their firm’s website. In a competition entry for Taichung City Cultural Center in Taiwan, they clad a curvaceous exterior with a type of pattern that would normally be found on a traditional silk cheongsam. “It happens to be quite floral and exuberant,” Pita says. “There’s no fear in using something floral just because we’re women. Maybe in a different era we would have shied away from being inspired by that.” She insists that they’re post-feminist and post-fear. “Too girly,” Pita adds, is no longer an issue.
What’s striking about Pita & Bloom is that it’s a partnership of two female visionaries—each with a pair of young children at home—reaching for the highest, riskiest ground in the profession. With their technical acumen, they may indeed herald a generational shift away from a whole menu of stereotypes. For example, Lynn points out that Pita made a conscious decision not to work with her architect husband, Hernan Diaz Alonso, another SCI-Arc progenitor of architectural spectacle. “I think she’s very smart not to do it,” Lynn says.
Pita & Bloom recently made the shortlist for the Young Architects Program at Museum of Modern Art PS1 in Long Island City, N.Y. A win there would surely help them to ground their practice and land some paying commissions. “Maybe a 2,000-square-foot scale” for starters, says Bloom, “not a 50,000-square-meter scale.”
Other Emerging Women Architects: