Profile of Emergent Architecture, headquartered in United States. Five projects submitted by Emergent Architecture have been published on Architecture News Plus (ANP).
Founded in 1999 by Tom Wiscombe, EMERGENT is a platform for architectural experimentation, dedicated to the transfer of techniques, logics, and sensibilities from science, technology, and computation into architecture. EMERGENT’s primary directive is to move beyond categorical thinking and the stratification of building systems toward a more integrated future. This involves a re-examination of assumed hierarchies and discreetness of systems toward coherent yet heterogeneous organizations. We are particularly interested in how the different features and behaviors of structure, environmental systems, envelope, and lighting can be negotiated to produce emergent formal, spatial, and atmospheric effects.
The work questions the dialectic of excess and efficiency in architecture, in favor of a more complex understanding of both through biological thinking. The cyclical process of mutation and selection in nature provides a model for making architecture which is ecological in the broadest sense of the word. This feedback logic is lived in the office through the use of generative algorithms and computational analysis, but also through hands-on design methods and trust in our acquired sensibilities.
Our interest is not in promoting either bottom-up or top-down design techniques per se, but rather in dealing with the inherent messiness of design problems which may be ill-served by allegiance to either. We prefer to focus on rich, exotic, synergistic effects in the field rather than auto-justifying processes in the lab.
We are, so to say, moving out of the lab and into the jungle.
EMERGENT is experienced in designing major cultural buildings, high-rises, theaters, stadiums, as well as public art projects for prestigious institutions. We are primarily a design office, versed in organizing, planning, and realizing complex projects in collaboration with international partners such as Buro Happold Engineers, DeSimone Engineers, Bollinger and Grohmann (Frankfurt), GARTNER, Gensler, Westlake Reed Leskosky, Chang-jo (Korea), and Schmitt Stumpf Fruehauf & Partner (Munich).
EMERGENT was a finalist in the Czech National Library Competition in 2007 and won second place in the competitions for the Novosibirsk A&D Pavilion in 2007 and the Seoul Performing Arts Center in 2005. In 2003, EMERGENT won the competition for the renowned P.S.1/ MoMA Urban Beach project, which opened to critical acclaim, and won the New York Engineering Excellence Platinum Award for 2004. EMERGENT was also awarded the Architectural League of New York Young Architects Award that year.
EMERGENT’s work has been part of many exhibitions including ‘Matters of Sensation’ at Artist’s Space in 2008, the 2007 Shenzhen Bienalle, the 2006 Bejing Bienalle, the 2006 London Biennale, ‘Glamour: Fabricating Affluence’ at MoMA SF in 2004, MoMA New York in 2003, and ArchiLAB in 2003 and 2001. Their work is part of the permanent collections of the F.R.A.C. Centre Paris, MoMA San Francisco, and MoMA New York.
ICON Magazine, in its May 2009 issue, named Tom Wiscombe one of the “top 20 architects in the world who are making the future and transforming the way we work”.
Born in 1970 in La Jolla, California, Tom Wiscombe is an architectural designer based in Los Angeles. He founded EMERGENT in 1999 after completing his Master’s Degree at UCLA.
Tom was previously Senior Designer and Project Partner at Coop Himmelb(l)au for over 10 years, right-hand to Principal Wolf Prix. He was in charge of various internationally renowned projects, including the Dresden UFA Cinema Palace, the Lyon Musée des Confluences, and the Akron Art Museum. Most notably, Wiscombe was Senior Designer for BMW World, Munich, which has been hailed as one of the most important buildings of the 21st century.
He is currently teaching in the X-Program (M. Arch II) at SCI-Arc where he is Applied Studies Coordinator, and he has been appointed Innovation Fellow at the Technical University of Sydney. Tom lectures widely, most recently at The Bartlett, Cornell University, Rice University and Yale.
In 2008, Tom founded Crystalline Rapid Prototyping, which is currently working with the entertainment industry in the production of props and specialty costumes for major motion pictures.
Tom began his career as an intern at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in the atmospheric science department, where his father is Chief Scientist.