Author : Thom Mayne  

Initial Concept Development : Hallie Black 

Editors : Hallie Black, Dora Epstein-Jones 

Graphic Design : Hallie Black, Christina Shin 

Publisher : Stray Dog Cafe / Rizzoli

Photography : Jasmine Park

M3 surveys five decades of work by international architecture and planning firm Morphosis, through a study of their extensive archive of architectural models. Running commentary explores the power of models within the design field, episodes from the firm’s history as detailed by current designers and alumni, and the impact of Morphosis’ radical modeling techniques and conceptual frameworks. 

With foreword by Thom Mayne and written contributions by historians, critics, model-makers, architects, and designers, including Stan Allen, Sylvia Lavin, Anthony Vidler, Steven Holl, Elizabeth Diller, and Kengo Kuma, among others. Published by Rizzoli.

All images courtesy of Stray Dog Cafe with photo credit to Jasmine Park.

[Hallie Black / Foreword]: In the conception of this book, we have come to ask: Why model? Morphosis consistently pursues modelmaking in its stride across the 50-year mark; they store crates upon crates in the office like a monolithic testament to design rigor. It is this amassing of work, a totality of a medium stacked in the hundreds, that indicates a conceptual core buried within. In search for an answer, herein we exhume.

Our documentation of the work was exhaustive. Unstacking, uncrating, and unearthing: models were newly exposed to the light of a documentation set-up. Some had to be refurbished as decades of decay set in (pg 663). Over the span of months, hundreds of models were photographed and those that could not – either homed in museum collections (pg 905) or destroyed in the 1994 earthquake (pg 923) – we rescanned lecture slides nestled into image binders (pg 547). 

On the page, projects became frameworks for organizing models – study, site, presentation – rather than a monographically exhaustive explanation of a project’s development. The models bridged ideas across time; schemes bubbled up (pg 565) and repeated themselves elsewhere (pg 534). Technology shifted (pg 675), means of modelmaking evolved (pg 683), and impacts of design focused the office in new but not unfamiliar directions (pg 2, 905). Projects grew in scale, but scale measurements anticipated those changes; models became the datum.  

Dotted with singular objects, this index is a constellation of work that frames the question: Why model? And so, what began as an archival research process triggered a broader engagement with the architecture community. Our extended Morphosis network in Los Angeles and beyond branched outwardly to include modelmakers, architects, and academics from afar. We called for their voices to connect this constellation for us, to reveal collectively why we make, why we explore, and why we try and then try again. 

There is no individual declaration by any one voice or model in this tome. Instead, these pages represent a collective calling in rallying the medium, exhuming the answer to the question: model by model and maker by maker.

ISBN-13: 978-0-8478-7275-6 / Library of Congress Control Number: 2022933758

Trim Size: 6.5” x 9.5” portrait (2.5” spine)

Text: printed (4x4) col on 90gsm Cai Yun Natural matt art (bulk 1.25)

Ends: plain on 180gsm Chinese black card

Cases: 3.0mm Chinese gray board (exposed board), 3-piece case, spine wrapped with Coral Colorful F-251 grey cloth laminated 250gsm Chinese C1S art board, reinforcement on 1st and last signature, die cut “M” on front case, through front ends and 1st signature of P1-16, 1c matt silk screen printing on front and back case plus cloth spine, stained 1 PMS color on 1 edge of front and case, individual shrink wrapping, barcode sticker (1.22”x2.02”) printed 1c on 85gsm un-removable matt label paper and affixed on top of shrink wrap back case

Binding: Sewn in 32pp with white thread, front and back case using raw 3mm grey board, grey board pasted onto ends, reinforcement on 1st and last signature, case flush with book block

Packing: In 2-ply carton of 6’s and palletized

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