Architecture of Hodgetts+Fung Driven by Music, Automobiles and Communities

Craig Hodgetts (L) and Ming Fung (R) of Hodgetts+Fung shared the firm’s work with students, faculty, and guests at Kresge Theatre on Monday 19 March 2018. Photo by Christina Brown.

Craig Hodgetts (L) and Ming Fung (R) of Hodgetts+Fung shared the firm’s work with students, faculty, and guests at Kresge Theatre on Monday 19 March 2018. Photo by Christina Brown.

By Chitika Vasudeva

Starting the second half of the spring semester off on a high note, the 2018 SoA Spring Lecture Series welcomed Craig Hodgetts, FAIA and Ming Fung, AIA of Hodgetts+Fung, a groundbreaking architectural practice based in Los Angeles. As designers, they have clearly-established areas of focus: craft, honesty, ingenuity, engagement, and disruption. Hodgetts and Fung strive for holistic experiences bred from an approach of regarding every aspect, “from tables to thoroughfares,” as part of the user experience. In addition to running their own firm, they have also held positions as educators, together and separately, at SCI-Arc, UCLA, Yale University, PennDesign, Rice University, and the University of Arizona.

Hodgetts and Fung have been influential not only in conversations about pedagogy but in wider architectural discourse as well. In the 1980s, Hodgetts and Fung were both part of a group of pioneering architects called the L.A. Ten. The pre-lecture Back2Front session on March 14 examined the role of both founders in the L.A. architectural movement and acknowledged that they are widely considered a significant part of the reason why Los Angeles is at the forefront of design invention.

In its 35 years, the firm has completed 47 projects ranging from the Nashville Ascend Amphitheatre in Tennessee to the Seoul Art Complex in South Korea. To Hodgetts and Fung, “each project is an opportunity for speculative exploration.” This is evident in their designs which hold on to the core values of the profession, but never stop trying to expand its scope. Narrative — of context, activities, experiences — is extremely important to the work of Hodgetts+Fung.

The Jesuit High School Chapel in Carmichael, California, is an excellent example of the kind of experiential plurality they strive for in their work, as it sits in an extremely “bipolar” setting, given the “tension between the neighbors, which was very self-serving and pragmatic, and the spiritual demands on the other side.” The firm has lately been involved with a number of performance arts projects. A project of interest in this area is the WildBeast Pavilion. For this project, Hodgetts tapped into his background in music as he expressed how it is important for music performance venues to “reflect the intricacy and the complexity of the forms of musical instruments.”

Besides being a trumpet aficionado, Hodgetts possesses a well-known interest in gadgets and gizmos. With a background in automotive design, theatre, and architecture, Hodgetts brings skills and passions that are distinct but complementary to Fung’s cultural sensitivity and understanding of a diverse range of human experience. They come together to disrupt an architecture that is commonly all too passive — one where doors and windows are the only elements that move and a dynamic occupant tries in vain to engage with a static environment.

Adopting an approach to architecture that is rooted in community inclusion, Hodgetts+Fung demonstrate that seeking balance and character in a project is not about pleasing everyone involved. Rather, it is about “being utterly transparent” and opening up to your clients so that they open up to you in return.

Chitika Vasudeva is a third-year Bachelor of Architecture student in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture.