Architect Robert Mangurian dies — a key member of SCI-Arc’s founding era


Architect Robert Mangurian, an influential scholar and member of a era of designers who helped set up L.A.’s iconoclastic structure academy, the Southern California Institute of Structure, often called SCI-Arc, died on July 5 on the Los Angeles Common Medical Middle from causes associated to cardiac arrest; he was 82.

His loss of life was confirmed by Mary-Ann Ray, his longtime accomplice in work and in life. The couple served as principals of Studio Works, a small Los Angeles-based design workplace. Collectively, they undertook a yearslong research of Villa Adriana, the 2nd-century dwelling of the Emperor Hadrian close to Rome, which recorded vital details about how an on-site temple employed daylight throughout a solstice.

Mangurian and Ray additionally designed quite a few instructional constructions, together with the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian Faculty in Hollywood (accomplished in 2000) and the West Adams Preparatory Excessive Faculty (2007) in Pico-Union. The latter undertaking organized slender classroom and administrative buildings round open-air courtyards with steps for congregating. The highschool, which abuts the ten Freeway, is in a park-poor space. “We needed to make an area,” says Ray, “the place children didn’t need to depart.”

Craig Hodgetts, a pal and former collaborator who helped set up the precursor to Studio Works, a New York-based workplace referred to as merely Works, recollects Mangurian as a curious mental who was as dedicated to big-picture ideas as he was to the main points of execution.

Among the many varied initiatives they labored on collectively was a Postmodern gallery and dwelling house for artwork vendor Larry Gagosian in Venice in 1981. The constructing contained a dramatic round courtyard with a jagged, wood staircase that led to the second story, in addition to patterned flooring fabricated out of marble tile. “Robert himself insisted on serving to lay the tiles, so that they have been exactly the way in which that they have been envisioned to be,” remembers Hodgetts. “Robert had a spiritual devotion to the function of structure.”

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The round courtyard contained in the Venice constructing designed by Studio Works (Craig Hodgetts and Robert Mangurian) for artwork vendor Larry Gagosian.

(Robert Mangurian / Studio Works)

Mangurian, nonetheless, will possible be finest remembered for his influential function as an educator — first on the structure school at UCLA within the early Eighties, adopted by a decadeslong presence at SCI-Arc, the place he served as director of the graduate program from 1987 to 1997. In a 2001 dispatch, former Instances structure critic Nicolai Ouroussoff describes a professor inquisitive about increasing the boundaries of the sector, instructing programs on topics corresponding to the connection between structure and movie or structure and style. “They grew to become wildly common with college students,” Ouroussoff wrote, “as a result of they appeared to increase on standard notions of what architects do.”

In his architectural e-newsletter, “The Horizontal Fault,” Peter Martinez Zellner, who taught at SCI-Arc alongside Mangurian and Ray starting within the late Nineties, describes architectural critiques with “a festive high quality” — “suggesting that architectural training is extra than simply checking off the packing containers on a syllabus or mastering software program.”

Present SCI-Arc director Hernán Díaz Alonso hailed Mangurian as “an enormous, each as an architect and within the formation of SCI-Arc.”

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Robert Mangurian at BASEbeijing Studios in China, an interdisciplinary design lab he co-founded with Mary-Ann Ray.


Robert Emerson Mangurian was born in Baltimore on April 15, 1941, the youngest son of George and Margaret Mangurian. Inside a decade, the household had relocated to the L.A. space — Glendale — after Robert’s father, an aerospace engineer, took a job at Northrop Corp. As Mangurian as soon as joked with a reporter from an Armenian weekly: “I used to be the primary Armenian to stay in Glendale.”

However the bulk of his youth was spent in Rancho Palos Verdes, the place the household settled to be nearer to Northrop’s headquarters in Hawthorne.

Mangurian’s undergraduate research took him to Stanford College, however ever stressed, he determined, together with his brother David, to take day off from faculty to device round Europe in a Citroen they acquired for $800. As a mandolin participant in a band referred to as the Tennessee Three, he spent a number of months in England gigging in pubs that had as soon as hosted folks stars like Bob Dylan.

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B.M.G. journal from 1963 options architect Robert Mangurian, at left, with the Tennessee Three.

(From Mary-Ann Ray)

On his return to america, Mangurian transferred to UC Berkeley, the place he majored in structure — motivated, he as soon as mentioned, extra by an curiosity in historical past than within the formal particulars of the sector. “I fell into it,” he as soon as mentioned. “I just like the historical past half higher.”

After school, a succession of jobs adopted. He moved to New York Metropolis to work at Conklin & Rossant, the agency that helped plan town of Reston, Va., and whereas there he linked with Hodgetts, a Yale College graduate who had established Works with fellow architect Lester Walker and graphic designer Keith Godard. Certainly one of their first initiatives was a neon-illuminated retail storefront for toy producer Artistic Playthings — a well-received undertaking that Mangurian helped see to fruition.

Works’ workplace was positioned on Union Sq., in an workplace proper above Andy Warhol’s Manufacturing unit studio. Ray says the group would prank Warhol by dangling a blaring radio on a rope outdoors the artist’s window.

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L.A.’s architectural upstarts within the late ‘70s and early ‘80s included, from left, Frederick Fisher, Robert Mangurian, Eric Owen Moss, Coy Howard, Craig Hodgetts, Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry.

(Ave Pildas)

Hodgetts and Mangurian teamed up once more within the late Nineteen Seventies as Studio Works to provide a mixed-use constructing for a social companies company in Columbus, Ohio.

The architects took the mission to coronary heart, embedding themselves with South Aspect Settlement employees to grasp their wants. As Mangurian informed The Instances’ John Dreyfuss in 1979, “We received our data from being within the consumer’s operation.”

The undertaking suffered stops and begins, together with a yr when Mangurian went off to Italy after successful the Rome Prize in 1976. However the constructing was finally completed in 1980 — full with an out of doors efficiency house with a swooping stairway designed by artist Alice Aycock. (Sadly, it has since been demolished.)

Afterward, the architect returned to Los Angeles to show at UCLA — and rapidly immersed himself within the metropolis’s experimental design scene, the place figures corresponding to Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry and Eric Owen Moss have been rebelling towards the glassy facades of late Fashionable structure and providing a extra rugged interpretation of Postmodernism than what was rising from the East Coast. Mangurian, contemporary from his travels in Italy, likewise helped carry a contemporary vocabulary to the shape.

Throughout this time, he as soon as once more teamed up with Hodgetts (already dwelling in L.A.) to take part in a now legendary DIY exhibition collection titled “Present L.A.: 10 Viewpoints,” which was staged in Mayne’s Venice dwelling. Dreyfuss reviewed the reveals at size in The Instances, giving the reveals — and the architects inside them — outstanding prominence.

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A view of the library — evoking the form of an ark — on the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian Faculty designed by Studio Works.

(Grant Mudford / Studio Works)

The partnership of Mangurian and Hodgetts finally petered out. Hodgetts received into Hollywood, engaged on manufacturing design, and he later went on to determine the architectural studio Hodgetts + Fung with Hsingming Fung. And Mangurian turned his consideration to analysis and instructing. The 2, nonetheless, remained lasting buddies. “I’d all the time invite Robert to my juries at UCLA and he would invite me to SCI-Arc juries,” says Hodgetts, “and we’d proceed to satisfy at this little Mexican restaurant on Rose Avenue.”

Over the course of his profession, Mangurian additionally collaborated with artists corresponding to Eric Orr, Vito Acconci and Ai Weiwei. In 1985, he and Ray received to know one another when the 2 started working collectively on the mannequin for artist James Turrell’s Roden Crater undertaking, a decadeslong effort to show an extinct Arizona volcano into an observatory. “Turrell,” says Ray, “claims to be our matchmaker.”

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Mary-Ann Ray and Robert Mangurian in Beijing.

(From Mary-Ann Ray)

Since then, the couple — later joined by co-principal William Anthony Hogan III — collaborated on quite a few initiatives. They established an experimental design lab in China and labored on designs, together with their unorthodox plan for the Armenian Faculty in Hollywood: an ark-like construction set on pilotis that Ouroussoff described as containing “a candy, offbeat high quality that’s genuinely disarming.”

Music was formative to Mangurian as a younger man, and it was current in his last hours.

Because the architect lay in his hospital mattress, Ray put the Stanley Brothers’ ”Angel Band,” a mournful tune that includes a outstanding mandolin, on the sound system. “It’s about ascending into heaven,” says Ray. “It was excellent.”

Along with Ray, Mangurian is survived by his older brother David, in addition to his son Tony from an earlier marriage to Paula Stephens. Stephens died in 2005.


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