Form4 Architecture Garners Top Honors for Sophisticated Design Concepts

Firm Celebrated With 2020 American Architecture Awards for Design Excellence


The Cloudscape commercial building (left) and The Museum of No Spectators (right) from Form4 Architecture won two 2020 American Architecture Awards. Renderings courtesy of John Marx, AIA, and Form4 Architecture. Click here for high-resolution images.

SAN FRANCISCO: Form4 Architecture won two 2020 American Architecture Awards for its design work on the Cloudscape commercial building and The Museum of No Spectators.  The honors—in the Mixed-Use Buildings and Museums/Cultural Buildings categories, respectively—were awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

“Form4 Architecture continues to measure our success by our contributions to society,” says John Marx, AIA, Chief Artistic Officer at Form4.  “Recognition from these leading organizations invigorates our mission to use modern design to elevate the humanity and emotional resonance of architecture for the communities being served.”  To date, Form4 has received six American Architecture Awards during the past five years.

Now in its 26th year, the American Architecture Awards honor new and cutting-edge design in American architecture in the U.S. and abroad.  The jury chose the 2020 winners from more than 400 projects.  Previously, Form4 received a 2017 American Prize for Architecture from The Chicago Athenaeum, awarded for the firm’s talent, vision, and commitment to elevating humanity through architecture.

Designed to house an international technology company, Form4’s concept for this 1.3-million-square-foot commercial tower symbolically references abstract cumulus clouds.  The building’s name comes from San Francisco’s prevalent mist and the cloud-computing technology landscape of the Bay Area.

Visitors are introduced to a feeling of clouds forming and rising to the sky beginning with the five-story-high glass entrance sphere that protrudes into the sidewalk and continues into the lobby.  Additional spheres are designed to seem as if they rise along the 47 stories, pausing in the middle and then cresting on top as an arrangement of 30 variously sized glass spheres.  Within this composition of soaring “clouds” are vast sky gardens, public and private spaces, cafés, exhibition rooms, and meeting/work areas.

Museum of No Spectators
The Museum of No Spectators (MoNS) aims to redefine the perception of what constitutes art through participatory engagement.  It challenges the notion of the museum as a temple of great masterworks by encouraging people to participate playfully with the idea of what museums mean.  MoNS turns the concept around and creates a fully participatory, highly interactive, and radically inclusive container where all become exhibiting artists as they place their works on the walls—or even use the interior and exterior walls as canvases.  With the intention of allowing art to develop during the week of Burning Man, self-expression continues as people add to or subtract from existing pieces.

Scheduled to debut during Burning Man 2021, the experience is a collaborative venture among architect/artist John Marx, AIA, artist Absinthia Vermut, builder Jerry James (a founder and builder of the first “Man” in 1986), and virtual builder Tomek Miksa.  A volunteer team of 40 will construct the 1,700-square-foot timber structure.  Comprising nine chambers, MoNS turns museum planning on end, as visitors enter through the gifting shop.  There, they are encouraged to make a gift before proceeding into the main museum.  “Art Barkers” will be available to facilitate, inspire, or teach participants how to make gifts with available art supplies.  Artists then flow through nine galleries, adding their art in an uncurated, revolving exhibition of self-expression.  The exit is dubbed “Theatre of the Participant,” with a stage that opens to the vast potential of the Burning Man Playa and the world beyond.

About Form4 Architecture
Form4 Architecture believes in returning a sense of humanity to Modernism through emotional meaning and poetic design.  The award-winning firm specializes in creating environments—whether tech offices, mixed-use developments, educational facilities, or cultural institutions—that respond as equally to the environment of the site as they do to the people they serve.  Winner of the 2017 American Prize for Architecture, Form4 creates formal expressions that are emotionally resonant and conceptually thoughtful, as well as deeply extend the client’s values and goals.  As collaborative partners in the building process, the principals of Form4 Architecture—Paul Ferro, John Marx, AIA, James Tefend, and Colin Speer, LEED AP—are actively involved with every project from concept to completion, bringing the collective wealth of years of expertise and knowledge to each client’s vision.  Since 1998, the firm has built a rich portfolio of award-winning work for national and international clients within diverse market sectors.