Who we are.

Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) is an internationally recognized architecture practice, known for its powerful massing, alluring graphic qualities, and tectonic inventiveness. TWA’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.

Recent projects include the nearly completed Dark Chalet, located on Summit Powder Mountain, for the founder of the largest independent solar power developer in the United States. This project is 362% energy positive, using breakthrough residential solar technology. Also nearly completed is the Sunset Spectacular, located on iconic Sunset Boulevard, which is a new form of digital billboard built of large prefabricated components. This project, realized in collaboration with Orange Barrel Media and MOCA, fuses architecture, media art, light, and sound into a new civic space for the 21st century. The Flat Out Large (a.k.a. Earth Protector), a speculative project completed in 2020, takes on the housing and energy crises of Los Angeles, with a new form of urbanism based on the ecological ideas of large scale indoor-outdoor spaces, shade, adaptive re-use, and inner-city solar fields.

TWA’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. They have 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).

Tom Wiscombe, AIA is Principal and Founder of TWA. 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. Tom is a leading voice in contemporary design culture, speaking, writing, and organizing discourse around the ideas of today. His 2020 monograph, Objects Models Worlds, captures the breadth of his practice and ideas, and includes over 50,000 words of original text, with contributions by prominent philosophers Graham Harman and Timothy Morton.

What We Bring to the Table.

We bring leadership in the latest building technology, energy efficiency, and digital craft to each project. While we are primarily known for our iconic design work, our office is also committed to research into new workflows, energy sources, materials, and methods of construction for the 21st century. Each project is developed meticulously in a three-dimensional environment to control form, coordinate systems, and visualize construction sequencing. We are steeped in methods of collaboration on federated models, using Tekla, Catia, and other BIM systems, and how to build teams and processes around these contemporary platforms.

Comprehensive Building Design
We pride ourselves on our ability to synthesize complex sets of design criteria and resolve them in unexpected, creative ways. We move fluidly between programmatic layouts, structure, parking needs, phasing, advanced envelope design, active and passive MEP design, lighting, and landscape, cost estimating, and construction sequencing. While we work with outside partners for our engineering and consulting needs, we posses deep knowledge of the fundamentals of each discipline which allows us to lead, control process, and manage cost effectively.

Envelope Design
TWA is a leader in the design of complex and innovative facades in glass, aluminum and stainless panel, FRP, and composites. These allow us to create specific architectural effects while maintaining economical, sustainable, and highly functional total integration of systems. We are particularly interested in how the global construction industry allows for high-quality and cost-effective production of large pre-fabricated components, delivered to sites everywhere. This has fundamentally changed the procurement environment, and TWA is uniquely positioned to leverage its global experience in this capacity.

Planetary Energy
At TWA, energy-intelligent design is an imperative. Every project strategically connects ideas about form and space to opportunities for daylighting, natural ventilation, and carbon-neutral sources of planetary energy. Principal Tom Wiscombe’s extensive architectural experience in Europe translates into deeply integrated thinking about sustainability as a basic element of good design, and results in sophisticated, highly functional passive systems that do not intrude on the aesthetics or user experience of the realized design.

Our expertise includes planning and implementing cutting-edge energy systems, including ground-source heat exchangers, radiant heating and cooling, stack effect with night-cooling dampers, innovative radiant hydronics, and solar PV and film. We stay current in green building codes and best practices as these continue to develop internationally, as well as with the National Green Building Standards in the U.S. The Dark Chalet features a fully integrated solar system designed by TWA in conjunction with the owner, founder of the largest independent solar power developer in the United States. It involves the conversion of commercial grade solar infrastructure for residential applications to allow for breakthrough solar opportunity, ultimately resulting in a building that is 362% energy positive. Net-zero is so yesterday.

International Practice
TWA has experience with international and local planning and code authorities as well as different methods of project delivery used in the United States, Germany, Austria, France, the Middle East, Korea and China. We also have extensive experience working with Executive Architects on joint ventures in international settings, and with the Design Assist project delivery method, which brings builders in early to collaborate. Previous to the founding of TWA, Principal Tom Wiscombe had a ten-year career at Coop Himmelb(l)au, where he was both Project Partner and Chief Designer for four major projects, totaling 150,000 square meters (1.5 million square feet). The total construction value of these projects is over $750 million USD. He brings this experience to bear on the work of TWA by 'seeing around the bend', and leveraging his global professional network.

Lyon Musée des Confluences, Lyon (2001-2014)

BMW Welt, Munich (2001-2007)

Akron Art Museum (2001-2007)

UFA Cinema Center, Dresden (1994-1998)

How we think.

We privilege mystery and the ability of architecture to allure, vex, and resist. To these ends, we consistently discover opportunity in the disciplinary study of mass, interiority, ground, aperture, and surface articulation— and in particular, in how these architectural elements can be broken apart and made to resonate with one another. We refer to this as the architecture of a flat ontology, where architecture is made of discrete entities that exist equally but differently. This position avoids both classical part-to-whole unities and the generalizing contemporary paradigm of flows, flux, and becoming in favor of the specific architectural object.

Our method is based on “models:” three-dimensional entities that precede exposure to the contingencies of program or site and embody specific ways of seeing the universe. The models that most fascinate us are low-resolution, almost primitive figures such as jacks, stacks, crystals, ziggurats, tesseracts, objects inside objects, misfit objects, and loose-fit enclosures. Rather than being drawn from the world, these entities exist as worlds in their own right, contending with the fundamental relationship between container and contained in an intensely disciplinary way.

Ground in our work is treated as architecture rather than landscape. Our building masses do not fuse with or otherwise disappear into the ground, but remain discrete from it using strategies such as hovering, nesting, or otherwise deferring a “landing.” Entry becomes a strategy for leaping between worlds rather than a smooth transition from outside to inside.

Finally, our work attempts to move beyond general envelope logics such as panelization and toward specific figuration. Like tattoos on the body, figuration on building skins can simultaneously interact with underlying form and deviate from it, creating ambiguous scale effects and links between architectural parts. Tectonics have been identified for too long with either material phenomenology or literal expression of performance. We argue, instead, that the beauty of tectonics is its ability to create fictions, confounding expectations of material or scale.

Our Creative Space.

We have an open, indoor/outdoor, unique creative office space located in Koreatown in the historic American Cement Building. Spanning between the tower and the folded concrete plate, rooftop event space. The space is a nested garden on the rooftop with views of downtown LA.