The Studio 25: Metous

by Tim Alatorre

David Lee ’11 and Anthony Stahl ’11, winners of the 2010 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Challenge talk about their award winning project, their team, and make us all feel like underachievers.

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Show Notes

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Rapid Fire Questions:

  • Cal Poly or Berkeley? Cal Poly
  • Autocad or Revit? AutoCAD, neither
  • Parallel bar or T-Square? parallel, T
  • Facebook or LinkedIn? Facebook x2
  • Arch Record, Arch Digest, or Architect? Record (A), Digest (D)
  • Drafting dots or tape? Dots x2
  • Yellow trace or white? White x2
  • Ad Markers or Prisma? Prisma x2
  • Pen or Pencil? pencil (D) pen (A)
  • Mac or PC? MAC x2
  • What’s the Meaning of Life? ARCHITECTURE mixed with a bit of fun… FUNCHITECTURE


31 (the number of entries in the competition they participate in)


Guests: David Lee ’11 and Anthony Stahl ’11

  • How did they get involved?
    • In the begining it was just the two of them. They discussed wanting to do the competition after David had heard about the competition. They formed the team of 11 students to work together to get the final product done.
    • The team was comprised of Cal Poly students expect for one a graphic designer out of the area.
  • What’s with the titles of the group members?
    • it was about diverisfying the group
    • the team had hands in all aspects of the project
  • What does Metous mean? (the name of their firm)
  • Me-to-us – it’s derived from the greek word ‘metousiosis’ (μετουσίωσις)
    • In the begining, they were a bit unsure of the “mock firm” aspect of the competition, but they wanted to look at the competition on the whole and pay attention to all aspects.
    • They wanted to take a shot gun approach and try to win it all!
  • The title of their project ‘Barrio de los Paracaidistas’:
    • they did a lot of research
    • slang term for ‘squatters’,
    • the name would have a connection to Mexico City and had a strong tie
  • The Design Concept:
    • The tower was meant to be an extension of the City, a veritcal application of the city itself
    • The idea of a vertical community, while addressing the neighborhood and community aspect of Mexico: concept of the street extending up into the tower.
    • “vertical ghetto” – they recieved some comments in the bog relm
    • They approached the Tower as Urban Designers, so what would would be designer horizontally they did vertically
    • Over time, the tower builds itself in a sense
  • Where did the inspiration come from
    • First they decided to do the competition, then went from there.
    • They looked at the problem given, and did a lot of research on Mexico City, realized that buiding up rather than out and creating architecture for the people from the very begining rather than based on structure or site perhaps
  • The Chicago presentation:
    • It was a hard deadline, they had to meet their deadline, had to put a lot of time into the presentation, the boards, the model.
    • They had to carry on their presenations, packing the model and trusting it would make the flight.
    • The reality of going to Chicago first of all, but then to present their project ontop of it.
  • Since the project is developed over time, how did they specifiy the green components over time and implementing them:
    • Part of the issue is all of these smaller buildings being built as part of a larger building.
    • So each building has to be somewhat selfcontained and sufficent, having PV for itsefl.
    • Pollution, density, these are big problems in Mexico City, air quality is a 2.3 in LA and a 97 in Mexico City to put it in perspective. So the Tower would help provide for the City with clean water and a carbon filter system throughout the tower to help clean the air. Slowly Mexico City becomes revived throughout the build out of the Tower.
  • What was the “Mock Firm” component of this project like:
    • The team knew it was going to be a sprint towards the end. Everyone had their own projects going on, but there was a balance that had to be maintained for all of the students.
    • Most of the team was comprised of 3rd year students, and they were very dedicated from day one and excited to be a part of the project. Having the team interested in the project and invested in the project was key in it’s success.
  • What else was comprised of the “Top Firm” award:
    • They addressed marketing of the firm, philosophy of the firm, really looked at being cohesive throughout.
    • They pretty much went above and beyond the requirements.
    • The whole presentation, from the project, the firm, the team, everything they presented was tight and cohesive so it all fit together.
  • What was the most rewarding part of the process:
    • The team aspect of this project, it allowed them to essentially do more work, more complete work, really finish something from beginning to end. It felt like a more compelte project.
    • The fact that they got the chance to address an architecture problem that was real, the opportunity to invent something and push the envelope.
  • What’s next:
    • Interning this summer in D.C. and then up in NY at TerraFarm, after graduation planning to go to NY and have a positive impact on architecture
    • Interning this summer in Orange County, then entering another competition with some friends abroad and eventually go to NY and practice as well.
    • Someday Metous may become a reality!!

About the Author

Tim Alatorre