Project DescriptionLos Angeles–area firm Morphosis Architects began winning P/A Awards in 1977 and has been recognized in the program 25 times since. In 1987, it was honored for two projects serving the public in divergent ways. An award went to the Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif., and a citation to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Cedars-Sinai medical complex (associate architects for the latter were Gruen Associates).
The restaurant was conceived as a freestanding structure on Wilshire Boulevard, a sophisticated embodiment of the “roadside steakhouse” that was requested by the client. The cancer center was an underground addition wedged into an existing medical complex, an outpatient facility that responded to then-emerging methods of treatment. In both cases, the architects tailored distinctive environments to specific kinds of users.
Both projects featured daylight flooding central spaces from above—the only source of it for the cancer center, which burrowed two levels below grade. Both were more restrained than much of the contemporary work by Morphosis and its Southern California contemporaries, displaying a rigorously modular order—imposed in the case of the restaurant by its reuse of a former bank building. In both designs, this regularity is countered by bold visual incidents: a sculptural assemblage reaching for the light in the cancer center; a boxing-ring mural and a skylit model of the solar system in the restaurant.
Kate Mantilini still offers an appealing destination for the area’s celebrities, while continuing to welcome a broader public. The cancer center, succumbing to the more rapidly evolving demands of medical treatment, is no longer there.