The American Institute of Architects has announced the winner of the 2020 AIA Twenty-Five Year Award, recognizing Conjunctive Points—The New City in Culver City, Calif., designed by local firm Eric Owen Moss Architects, as a project that has “set a precedent for the last 25–35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance,” according to an AIA press release.
Eric Owen Moss, FAIA, began this collaboration with land developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith in 1986. The first project reimagined five conjoined warehouses at 8522 National Boulevard into a new, flexible commercial space. Three decades and more than 20 projects later, the body of work represented by Conjunctive Points—The New City has transformed the Hayden Tract, which had been a stretch of Culver City filled with disused warehouses and bare-bones manufacturing spaces.
“The original buildings were less buildings and more investigations about what the prospects of building mean: What’s a building? How does it manifest itself?,” said Moss in a 2014 video interview with ARCHITECT. “It gets very fundamental, not only in spatial terms—what’s space?—but in basic dictionary definitions: What’s a column? What’s a floor? What’s a roof? What’s a wall? What’s a window? All of that.”
Moss and his team have filled the Hayden Tract with adaptive re-use, renovation, and new construction projects—many with unique names such as Waffle, Samitaur Tower, and Pterodactyl— transforming the former industrial site into a constellation of experimental office spaces. “The pieces now start to bump into each other and influence each other,” Moss said in the same interview. “It’s not someone building a building which is anomalous or not in a context where clearly it’s different, but the context itself now gets to be an argument either that sustains itself—it supports the pieces—and in a larger sense makes something which is a different vision of what the city is and what the city can be.”
Conjunctive Points—The New City has attracted high-profile tenants such as Nike, Converse, and Apple and become one of the most desirable office locations in the city, spurring the creation of an estimated 15,000 new jobs, according to an AIA press release.
“What was experimental in a design way, it was also experimental in a business and economic way, has been conformed as an economic success,” Moss said in the same interview. “And the architecture magnet probably perpetuates, or certainly assists in that synergy between business and design in the community that has come here.”
Past winners of the Twenty-Five Year Award include Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates’ Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery in London (2019), Pei Cobb Freed & Partners' design for The Grand Louvre—Phase 1, in Paris (2017); EHDD's design for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif. (2016); and the Broadgate Exchange House in London, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (2015). The AIA did not confer a Twenty-Five Year Award in 2018.