Eric Owen Moss Architects takes home the AIA’s 2020 Twenty-Five Year Award

Still Going Strong

Eric Owen Moss Architects takes home the AIA’s 2020 Twenty-Five Year Award

8522 National, completed in 1988, was once an assemblage of five warehouses. (Tom Bonner)

2020 hasn’t been all bad, especially if you’re the Los Angeles-based Eric Owen Moss Architects; today the AIA announced that the firm’s Conjunctive Points – The New City in Culver City, California, had won the prestigious Twenty-five Year Award.

As the name might suggest, the award was set up to honor buildings from the last 25-to-35 years that have set a lasting precedent and continue to inspire (meaning they’re still standing and in good shape). The 2019 award went to the Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA)–designed Sainsbury Wing, a Postmodern addition to London’s National Gallery that drew scorn when first unveiled but later went on to gain its proper recognition. A bigger upset came the year before, as the AIA declined to name a winner in 2018, claiming there were no buildings worth recognizing that were built between 1983 and 1993.

A spiraling weathered steel tower
The relatively new, 72-foot-tall Samitaur Tower, completed in 2010. (Tom Bonner)

This year’s jury appears to have thought differently. In 1986, Eric Owen Moss was tapped to transform a blighted, formerly industrial stretch between L.A. and Culver City into an adaptive reuse campus for developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith. Moss created a master plan for 30 buildings across the tract, and one-by-one converted the abandoned warehouses into a sprawling office campus that still attracts big-name tenants and now holds 15,000 workers. As the jury notes, the successful transformation helped reverse decades of blight in the surrounding areas and raised property values.

“It is a powerful example of building in the service of rejuvenation, and of a political will meeting design ambition,” wrote the jury. “A marriage of architecture and creative enterprise helps Conjunctive Points – The New City anchor the region to its history of American television and film innovation while providing a glimpse of a future community built on embracing the value of diverse and emerging industries.”

The 2020 jury consisted of:

Samuel M. Miller, FAIA (Chair), LMN, Seattle, Washington

Merrill Elam, AIA, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia

Rebecca Sharkey, AIA, EHDD, San Francisco, California

Dale Frens, AIA, patterhn ives, llc, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Michael Johns, FAIA, NOMA, Mdesigns + MWJ Consulting LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Michelle Acosta, AIA, SmithGroup, Phoenix, Arizona

Trinity Simons, Mayor’s Institute on City Design, Washington, District of Columbia

Kevin Alter, Assoc. AIA, Alterstudio Architecture, Austin, Texas

Caleb Bertels, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas