RoTo Architects was founded in January 1992.
It was an outgrowth of another practice, Morphosis, that Michael Rotondi had started with a close friend, in 1975, and continued working with until the end of 1991. The body of worked produced during that period is well published. They started a practice and with some other friends, started a school, SCI-ARC. This partnership was very productive in many ways, teaching, researching, designing, and building.
The new practice’s mission has been continuity from past to present, while integrating a teacher-practitioner’s expanding field of trans-disciplinary interests, within and beyond architecture. In particular, our investigations are informed by the dynamic relationships of conservation and change, socio-cultural evolution of the city, the simultaneity of process, order, and unity, and the symbiotic coupling of society, environment, and economy. The broadest question framing these investigations and directing the design research is, “what is the architectural equivalent of this?”
Since its founding, RoTo has developed collaborative working relationships with a wide range of clients who operate at the frontiers of their particular fields, including Civic, Business, Education, Government, Religious, Science, and Culture Production. The unique interests of, and relationships with these clients have led to large and diverse body of work, where different ways of solving problems, managing resources, making architecture, or re-defining strategic objectives are explored. This leads to solutions that are unique and inevitable, functionally, economically, and aesthetically. We have a signature process but do not have a signature style nor do they specialize in project types although they have the knowledge and experience of experts. This allows RoTo to be open to new ways of thinking about, site challenges, diverse demographics, changing market forces, and diminishing resources.
RoTo begins each project sitting around a 5m long table covered with a continuous scroll of paper, talking and drawing until a coherent approach emerges in a diagrammatic ‘mind map.’ They then develop the ideas into alternative schemes using multi-media. Working with staff and clients at the table is conducive to more ‘horizontal’ creative collaborations and ongoing analysis and critique of the work. This eventually leads RoTo to an optimum solution, which is developed and implemented. They cooperate with each other and compete against a standard. In practice and teaching we discovered this is effective, efficient, and enabling process for everyone involved. In our own ways, we can all be teachers. This is the way of Aikido, the martial art. How RoTo interacts is the difference. They learn in proportion to our capacity to listen. as if you are hearing something for the first time. This is the precondition to being surprised by hearing the unexpected things you may hear. This is the essence of creative dialogue.
RoTo has envisioned and built a wide range of project types of varying scope and complexity. In addition to architectural design and city scale, urban design, RoTo services include strategic consulting to commercial clients, non-profit organizations, education and campus planning, planning and design of rural communities, and cultural conservation.
Architecture can be a pretext for generating and sustaining relationships.
Architecture is a maximum act of resistance to entropy.
Architecture is the third skin.
Architecture is a medium for teaching and learning
Architecture’s medium is space and spatial intelligence is born out of spatial not verbal experience