“(Escher and GuneWardena) have such a multidisciplinary approach because they are, in part, scholars, artists, architectural historians, designers and architects. It’s an approach that a number of new, exciting firms have adopted, and it allows for a much more experimental and enriching architectural practice than has been traditional in this country.” Don Albrecht, Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of the City of New York
Escher GuneWardena’s work has been published and exhibited internationally and has received numerous awards. They address issues of sustainability, affordability and the relationship between form and construction to organize and establish simple formal manifestations of the complexities of each project.
Located in the United States, Canada, and in Europe, their work ranges from residential to commercial, master planning and institutional projects. Residential projects include new buildings, such as DWELL Home II (a prototype for a sustainable house, now under construction), the Jamie residence in Pasadena (a 2000 square foot house lofted on two concrete towers above its precipitous site), the Sola / Wright residence in Mt. Washington (three thermoplastic-wrapped volumes stepping up a hill), as well as work on historic structures, such as the restoration of John Lautner’s Chemosphere in Los Angeles for the German publisher Benedikt Taschen and the restoration of the Charles and Ray Eames house. Commercial and urban projects include a 133,000 square foot shopping center for Redmond, WA.
The firm’s interest in contemporary art has led to various art related projects and collaborations with artists. The new Blum & Poe gallery in Los Angeles joins the list of such work, including numerous installations for Sharon Lockhart (SFMOMA; LACMA; MCA Chicago; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Secession, Vienna, the Colby Museum of Art and others), Olafur Eliasson (the first project of Emi Fontana Gallery’s 2005 West of Rome series, installed at the Escher GuneWardena designed Jamie Residence), and Mike Kelley (Sculpture Projects Muenster 07). Three major exhibitions designed by Escher GuneWardena opened in 2008: Life on Mars, the 55th Carnegie International (Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh); Living Flowers: Ikebana and Contemporary Art (Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles) and Between Earth and Heaven: the Architecture of John Lautner (The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; co-curated by Frank Escher and Nicholas Olsberg). In fall of 2009, Escher and GuneWardena curated and designed the exhibition Folly – The View from Nowhere at MOCA Los Angeles’ Pacific Design Center Space.
Escher GuneWardena were one of six architectural firms included in the 2003 National Design Triennial, an overview of current American design. In 2007 they were among a select international group of architects invited to participate in the exhibition OPEN HOUSE: Intelligent Living by Design, organized jointly by the Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein, Germany) and Art Center College of Design (Pasadena) to explore the topic of the future house in relation to digital technologies.
Frank Escher grew up in Switzerland and studied Architecture at the ETH (EidgenössischeTechnische Hochschule) Zürich. He is the editor of the monograph “John Lautner, Architect” and serves on the Board of Directors of the John Lautner Foundation, as well as the Julius Shulman Institute. Mr. Escher has served as president, and later on the advisory board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. Ravi GuneWardena, originally from Sri Lanka, was trained at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and spent a year studying Art and Architectural History in Florence Italy. He has served on the Hollywood Public Art Advisory Panel for the CRA. Mr. Escher and Mr. GuneWardena have lectured on their work in various forums, including The Cooper Hewitt National Design Conference, The San Diego AIA, the 2006 Architectural League’s “Emerging Voices” series, (National Building Museum, Washington D.C., and The Urban Center, New York), at Cal Arts and at Cal Poly Pomona, where they have both maintained posts as visiting faculty. Mr. Escher is currently teaching at USC. In the summer of 2009 Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena were invited by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa to serve on the Mayor’s Design Advisory Panel to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission.
With the firm since 1999, Bojana Banyasz, Associate, currently project manages the Eames House Restoration and the Dwell Home II residence. She was the project manager for the recently completed 22,000 sf Blum & Poe Gallery, among other projects. She has a degree in Art History from Pomona College and a Masters of Architecture degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. She is a licensed architect in the State of California and served on the Los Angeles City’s Green Building Program Task Force.
With the firm since 2002, Brian Hart, Associate, has experience within all aspects of the project delivery process, including pre-design, construction documentation, BIM management and construction administration. He is a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and is a licensed architect in the State of California. He project managed Blum & Poe Gallery’s earlier gallery in 2003, the Redmond Shopping Center in Washington, and an extensive commercial interiors project for Horiba International Corporation, among other projects.