Shaping a vision

P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S is a design research architectural practice based in Los Angeles and operating globally. Since the firm’s foundation in 1999, their work has earned international acclaim for its subtle approach to architecture – an approach that “seamlessly integrates digital technology with an extensive consideration of form, novel tectonics, and innovative materials.”

According to Marcelo Spina, a founder and Principal of the company, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S works across multiple scales, programs, cultures, and economies, and they have completed projects in the US, South America, and Asia.
With each of their projects, Marcelo says P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S aims to generate “innovative spatial forms that actively engage, enhance, and influence the body – constantly challenging its relationship to the built environment akin to the complexity of contemporary life.”

P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S is headed by Marcelo and Georgina Huljich−both individual award winners who bring years of experience to their roles. In 2008, they were also the curators of “Matters of Sensation” at Artists Space in New York –one of the most important acclaimed exhibitions in architecture that Artists Space has ever organized.
Marcelo and Georgina – as well as every other employee of the firm – is committed to design excellence and innovation.

“We have young, talented, technologically savvy – and intellectually curious – people,” Marcelo says. “We combine that with a certain level of experience, so we can take on demanding, technical projects.”
According to Marcelo, the team at P-A-T-T-E-R-N-Sis always looking for new materials to use, new technologies to utilize, and even new master planning strategies to implement. Marcelo says that adaptability and innovative streak is what sets the firm apart in their field.

“We look at building and architecture in a very progressive way,” he explains. “At the same time, we have a lot of experience and understanding of materials, tectonics, and construction technologies in general. So we can offer solutions that are forward-looking but also believable, innovative but also efficient.”
P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S is also set apart, Marcelo adds, by their approach to clients. They meet their expectations on schedule and on budget, but more than that, they help clients shape and realize their visions and what’s possible within it.

“As architects, we’re there to meet the clients’ demands and expectations, but we’re also there to help formulate the demands themselves,” he says. “We’re there to help them shape their vision. We help clients ask the right questions, so they get what they want from a cultural point of view, an economic point of view, and a sustainability point of view.”

Ideal environments

Over the years, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S has received numerous professional prizes and awards from a variety of competitions and publications.In 2003, for example, they received the third prize in the prestigious Young Architect of the Year Awards. The following year, they were recognised by the Architectural Record Design Vanguard issue as having one of the 11 most progressive offices working worldwide.

In the years since, the firm continued to receive a long list of both general and project-specific accolades. Most recently, at the 2014 American Architecture Awards – hosted by the Chicago AthenaeumMuseum of Architecture and Design, together with the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press – P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S in collaboration with MSA won an award for their JujoyRedux project.

JujoyRedux is a multi-family housing project in Marcelo’s native Argentina. The project is P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S’ second commission for an apartment building on Jujuy Street, and Marcelo says it “presented the possibility of rethinking urban housing.”

The building consists of thirteen small, shared-floor units and a duplex organized in a cross-ventilated layout. Each unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The ground level provides parking for 10 vehicles.
JujuyRedux occupies a corner lot, and was developed with the aim of revitalizing the city of Rosario’s traditional neighbourhood of “Pichincha.” The building is adjacent to the area’s historic downtown as well as the Parana Riverfront, and enjoys “generous street sizes, large amounts of vegetation, and a low urban density” – making it the “the ideal environment” for young families and students.

According to Marcelo, Jujuy Redux “proposes a subtle delineated mass, operating both at the scale of the entire volume and the scale of each apartment.”

“This flexible duality overcomes issues that exist with many mid-rise housing typologies, such as the occurrence of fixed, scalar transformations that play either with the envelope as detached from the units, or with the units alone,” he says.

“A transition from mass to volume, from volume to surface, induces a visual and physical distortion at the pedestrian level. More importantly, it enables the weighty appearance of the building to sinuously dematerialize towards the corner, allowing the social space par excellence of each apartment to visually connect with the pedestrian activity in the street below.”

Moving forward, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-Saims to keep working on award-worthy and innovative projects like that one. They want to design buildings that will have a “lasting impact on cities and urban settings.” Currently, for example, the firm is working on a massive project called SoLA Village, a $1 billion development planned for South-Central Los Angeles. Overall, that project is designed to include: a 19-storey tall, 208-room hotel; nearly 1,500 residential units in two towers and low rise blocks; an art gallery, retail, six restaurants and cafes anda grocery store.

According to Marcelo, doing projects like those the right way means P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S staying at their current size, and maintaining their small, youthful, and energetic team. The company’s office in Los Angeles employs anywhere from 6 to 10 people, and Marcelo says he wants to retain those numbers for now, and thus retain their culture of independence, innovation and design excellence.