11 Years at UCLA

Thom Mayne and Richard Koshalek founded The NOW Institute in 2001 to convene leading LA institutions around pressing urban issues. Thom was chosen to lead the urban planning component by UCLA Dean and Urban Planner, Richard Weinstein. The NOW Institute formally became a center at UCLA in 2008.

Over the last decade, we have consulted for cities around the globe including Madrid, Los Angeles, Port-au-Prince, and New Orleans. The built projects that ensued have been strengthened by the publication of in-depth research into contemporary urban issues. They have included the 5-book L.A. Now series and the 730-page cultural almanac Haiti Now. Most recently, we have published the best-seller 100 Buildings which is in its third round of printing. All of our built work actively grounds this research in real-world applications. Our most notable projects have been a floating house typology in New Orleans, an autonomous community network in Madrid, a water filtration and community center in Port-au-Prince, and a modular urban farming system in Los Angeles.

To conclude our decade spent at UCLA, we are re-defining the role of the architect and planner in the creation of smart cities around the globe. The spatial influence of companies like Google and Tencent is increasing rapidly. As a result, public urban space is dissolving into the private realm and our cities’ capacities to support social equity are going with it. Our current students are analyzing this shift through the design of a Tech Giant’s behemoth urban campus. They are also investigating the capacity of urban form to adapt to extreme environmental and social conditions. Finally, we are sending the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge  to print in April. This book synthesizes our urban policy investigations in Los Angeles by describing paths to 100% renewable energy and local water for LA county by 2050.

Our migration to Sci-Arc marks The NOW Institute’s newest chapter and a shift in focus as we continue to explore the social impact of technology in urban environments. Our organization is redoubling efforts to locate ground-breaking formal solutions to problems of overpopulation, environmental health and cultural resilience in cities.