Tom Wiscombe, AIA, NCARB

Founder + Principal

Tom Wiscombe, born in 1970, is Principal and Founder of Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) in Los Angeles. His work is known for its powerful massing, alluring graphic qualities, and tectonic inventiveness, all underwritten by contemporary ecological thinking. He combines his renowned design expertise with a deep knowledge of construction and project delivery—gleaned from a thirty year professional career—to create projects with the highest level of care and craft. He is a leading voice in contemporary design culture, speaking, writing, and organizing discourse around the ideas of today.

Tom’s work is ecological in the broadest sense, and groundbreaking in its treatment of architectural entities like ground, massing, interior, circulation, apertures, and ornament as independent objects within loose, curated collections, rather than as incomplete parts of a unified, congealed whole. This approach stems from our revolutionary theory of the flat ontology of architecture, which imagines architecture—and the world—as a set of discrete, lively entities that exist democratically on a flat plane. This allows our practice to move beyond received hierarchies and categories, and create buildings and spaces that are enchanted.

TWA’s projects include the recently completed Dark Chalet, located on Summit Powder Mountain – one of several buildings for the founder of the largest independent solar power developer in the United States. This project is 362% energy positive, using a proprietary, fully integrated solar PV array which operates as a virtual power plant. Also nearing completion is the Sunset Spectacular, located on iconic Sunset Boulevard, which combines architecture, media art, light, and sound into a new type of civic space for the 21st century. The Sunset Spectacular is fit together out of overscaled prefabricated components and represents a new take on modular construction. TWA’s Earth Protector series, a speculative project completed in 2020, takes on the housing and energy crises of Los Angeles at the scale of the urban district. Rather than the typical cycle of demolition and new construction, the project lands on top of the existing city like a giant awning over the civic realm, providing massive zones of outdoor shade below, abundant housing above, and embedded inner-city solar fields along its outer faces.

Tom’s work is part of the permanent collection of the FRAC Centre Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA San Francisco, and MoMA New York. He has received awards such as the MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architect's Award, the Architectural League Young Architect's Prize, and many AIA Design Awards, including two prestigious Honor Awards for the Sunset Spectacular (2017) and the Dark Chalet (2020). In its May 2009 issue, ICON magazine named Wiscombe one of the “top 20 architects in the world who are making the future and transforming the way we work.”

Tom is Chair of the Undergraduate Program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), where he is known for developing a curriculum based on design excellence combined with a unique liberal arts education. Previously, he was Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and held the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professorship at Yale University, and the U.C. Berkeley Esherick Chair. He has published texts on architectural theory in journals such as AD, Project, and LOG. His 2021 monograph, Objects Models Worlds, captures the breadth of his practice and ideas, and includes over 50,000 words of original text, with essays by philosophers Graham Harman and Timothy Morton.

Earlier in his career, Tom made a name for himself as Chief Designer at Coop Himmelb(l)au, where he was responsible for the design and execution of many complex international projects. His built works include the UFA Cinema Center, Dresden (1994-8), the Akron Art Museum (2001-7), BMW Welt, Munich (2001-7), and the Lyon Museum of Confluences (2001-14), known as four of the most important works of contemporary architecture.