• The Culture Now Project: Midsize America
    Karen Lohrmann
    University of Califonia, Los Angeles, 2011
    University of California, Los Angeles-Department of Architecture and Urban Design

Cover of The Culture Now Project – Midsize America, 2012, UCLA. © Karen Lohrmann.

The Culture Now Project is an immersive investigation of the intersection of public policy, urban design, and the spatial manifestation of contemporary culture. The use of social, political, and cultural evidence immediately extends the discussion across disciplines and encompasses institutional and political models of the public. Our methods identify existing systems, correlations, dependencies, initiatives, and interactions while we examine spatial, communal, economic, and ecological transformation as instruments of change. This first publication of the Culture Now Project represents the culmination of a year-long study and seeks to instigate a critical dialogue about the nature of art and culture in the American city. Art in itself functions to expand discourse; today, the very nature of this conversation is in question. The publication will advance this conversation throughout society—beyond the sphere of institutions—and study the significance of the arts to this country and to the identity of our cities.

Thom Mayne, project director, has been a committed educator in architecture for over forty years. His firm Morphosis is engaged in the broader social, cultural, urban, political, and ecological issues which he brings to his teaching. With Morphosis, Mayne has been the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize, twenty-six Progressive Architecture Awards and over 100 American Institute of Architecture Awards. Morphosis’s works have been published extensively. The firm has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and twenty-five monographs. Mayne's significant contributions to architectural education include the highly regarded L.A. Now and Madrid Now initiatives. Under Mayne's direction, UCLA students won the 2005 PA Award for L.A. Now: Volumes 3 and 4. There has always been a symbiotic relationship between Mayne's teaching and practice, evidenced in his commitment to a recent sustainable, affordable housing project for the Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans developed with UCLA students. He has been a UCLA professor since 1992, and is the initiator and director of the Culture Now Project.

Karen Lohrmann, project manager and publication editor, is an LA-based urbanist, artist, educator and researcher.  In 2002, she cofounded the cross-disciplinary, internationally published and exhibited collaborative Lorma Marti, in Berlin.  She is coauthor of Update: All Possible Worlds (2008) and How We Spent It (2009), and coeditor of Clear Skies with Patches of Grey (2003) and the periodical Correspondents (2009). As a faculty member at UCLA, Lohrmann is the coordinator and coinstructor of the Culture Now Project. She was a visiting professor at Innsbruck University (2003–10) and an assistant professor at TU Berlin (1998–2003). Educated at Aachen University, ETH, and ZHdK–Zurich, she received her diploma in architecture from TU Berlin (1996).  A DAAD scholarship recipient, she has been awarded numerous project and research grants for her work, which spans from cultural production to spatial practice.

Contributing editors to the publication include Clayton Taylor and Jai Kumaran.

UCLA Suprastudio 2010–11 post-professional students:

Dylan Barlow (BArch, California College of the Arts, San Francisco), Emily Cheng (BArch, Woodbury University, Los Angeles), Grady Gillies (BArch, Virginia Tech), Cheng Ha(MArch, Tsinghua University, China), Christopher Harris(MArch, University of Kentucky), Matthew Kendall (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Wayne Ko (BArch, SCI-Arc), Jai Kumaran (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Layton Petersen (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Stacey Rigley (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Clayton Taylor (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Bryan Tranbarger (BArch, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), Sepa Sama (BArch, SCI-Arc), Yang Wang(MArch, Southeast University, China)

Founded in 1968, the University of California, Los Angeles’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design pursues issues confronting contemporary architecture and urbanism through five different degree programs, offering a BA in architectural studies, two professional degrees (the master's of architecture I and II) as well as the MA and PhD in architecture. Our primary focus on advanced design is accompanied by concentrations in technology and critical studies of architectural culture.