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Distinguished SCI-Arc faculty member Robert Mangurian dies at 82

1941–2023

Distinguished SCI-Arc faculty member Robert Mangurian dies at 82

Longtime SCI-Arc faculty member and architect Robert Mangurian has died. Mangurian was born in Baltimore, but spent a significant part of his childhood in Glendale, California. After initially attending Stanford, he graduated with a degree in architecture from University of California, Berkeley.

Mangurian joined Studio Works Architects after a stint at Conklin & Rossant in New York. It was at Studio Works where he began collaborating with Craig Hodgetts that his career took off. Mangurian worked at the firm with Mary Ann Ray, who later became his partner. The two cofounded their own firm, B.A.S.E Beijing

While at Studio Works, Mangurian was an important figure in the Los Angeles response to postmodernism. His work included the Gagosian House and Gallery, designed with Hodgetts, it featured a purple embassy-wall street-facing facade masking an open-air rotunda. Mangurian also worked on Studio Works’ collaboration with James Turrell for his Roden Crater project in the Painted Desert. Mangurian and Hodgetts’ work was the subject of a 1980 exhibition at MoMa PS1: Architecture (Spring 1980): Robert Mangurian and Craig Hodgetts: Studio Works. Mangurian also participated in Thom Mayne’s Architecture Gallery, which gathered the likes of Hodgetts, Eric Owen Moss, and Frank Gehry, among others, playing an important role in shaping the L.A. design scene that emerged in the mid- to late-1970s.

Mangurian and Ray founded and ran Atelier Italia in Rome from 1985 to 1997 (both had previously received a Rome Prize), investigating and documenting Hadrian’s Villa. The pair began working in China in 1993 when they collaborated with Yung Ho Chang to bring a SCI-Arc outpost to the country, later starting B.A.S.E. In reflecting on Mangurian’s death, architect Steven Holl remembered “giving lectures at B.A.S.E. and enjoying symposium-like dinners with enthusiastic students,” saying that “Robert and Mary-Ann created an amazing teaching program and studio in Beijing.” 

Mangurian was a key figure in SCI-Arc’s early years, and he directed its graduate program from 1987 to 1997. In addition to SCI-Arc, Mangurian held positions as the visiting Saarinen Professor at Yale University, Harry S. Shure Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, Taubman Professor at the University of Michigan, Wortham Professor at Rice University, and a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University. SCI-Arc Director Hernán Díaz Alonso said that “Robert was a giant, both as an architect and in the formation of SCI-Arc into what it has become… His influence in the architectural landscape in Los Angeles, Southern California, and the world at large has been massive, as well as his talent and generosity as an educator. He will be deeply missed.”

Hodgetts also praised Mangurian as an educator, saying that “By refusing to compromise on the smallest detail, and demanding larger-than life ambitions from his students, while reminding them of the true greatness to be found in antiquities, he inspired generations of architects whose practice continues to reflect his principles even today.”

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