Who we are
Tom Wiscombe Architecture (TWA) is an internationally recognized architecture practice known for its powerful massing, alluring graphic qualities, and tectonic inventiveness. We have expertise in civic, entertainment, cultural, and housing projects, and we are known for our radical integration of ecological thinking and technology in our built work.
We approach each project as a set of lively, discrete entities that interact with the things of the surrounding world as intensely as they do with each other. Ground objects, interior volumes, circulation elements, surface figuration, and exterior massing are considered non-hierarchically and individually, as if they were independent objects within a curated collection. This avoids the routine ideology of unified, internally derivative design outcomes to produce buildings that are experientially surprising, technologically novel, and formally innovative.
Our 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.
We have been honored with many AIA Design Awards, including two prestigious Honor Awards for the Sunset Spectacular (2017) and the Dark Chalet (2020). Our work is part of the permanent collection of the FRAC Centre Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA San Francisco, and MoMA New York.
Founder and Principal Tom Wiscombe, AIA, combines renowned design expertise with a deep knowledge of construction and project delivery gleaned from a thirty-year professional career. His experience includes designing and executing complex, iconic projects in Europe, including BMW World, Munich, and the Museum of Confluences in Lyon.
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 innovation in 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, detail facades, and visualize construction sequencing. We are steeped in methods of collaboration on federated models, using REVIT, Tekla, and other BIM systems, and how to build teams and processes around these contemporary platforms. While we work with outside partners for our engineering needs, we possess deep knowledge of the fundamentals of each discipline which allows us to lead, control process, and manage cost effectively.
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 1.5M 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.
Commitment to planetary energy
At TWA, every project connects ideas about form and space to opportunities for leveraging planetary and solar 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, active and passive systems that are fully integrated into overall design concepts.
Notable green projects include our Dark Chalet, which features a fully integrated solar system embedded into its black skin, and our Sky House which features a giant solar roof atop an existing house. Both projects look to the future, conceived of as virtual power plants, generating over 3MWh/year of power, enough to run 3 neighboring houses. Previously in his career, Principal Tom Wiscombe was Chief Designer for BMW World in Munich, which has some of the most advanced energy technology in the world, including radiant floors, radiant structure and mullions, automated natural ventilation, and 100,000 SF of rooftop photovoltaics.
We build models
Models, for us, aren’t just representations of a design. We use models for their ability to remove us from everyday reality, and give us new ideas about architecture and its parts. We do both very small models to understand a project’s strategy and silhouette against the sky, and very large models to visualize how the tectonics of each project affects its ultimate reading as a built object. Modelling is the most important part of our office culture. We never make decisions based on drawing, renderings, and other illusions; we rely on models. These can be physical models, or digital models, each with their own scale and value and life.
‘Live modelling’ sessions at our office allow our clients and other stakeholders to participate in our process at key moments, creating opportunities for consensus to develop and decisions to be made quickly and in an informed manner.
Our Creative Space.
We have a uniquely open, indoor/outdoor creative office space located in the historic American Cement Building in Westlake, Los Angeles. Spanning between the tower and the folded concrete plate, the office features a nested courtyard garden and a rooftop event space with iconic views of downtown LA.