John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects was formed in 1996, when John and Alice recognized a shared aesthetic and social vision for the power of architecture. Since then, the firm has become renowned for an innovative design process dedicated to creating vibrant architectural spaces that catalyze creative interaction and redefine both social and individual realms.
The firm’s portfolio encompasses a range of building types and sizes that have been widely recognized for their technological, material, and sustainable intelligence, as well as their spatial fluidity, quality of light and social significance. Noteworthy early projects include Club Sugar, the LA Design Center, and the SK Swim Center, followed by more recent examples such as the King Residence, the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech, and the Guest of Honor Pavilion for the 2009 Guadalajara International Book Fair. Both the Ehrlich Residence and the Green Dot East 27th Street Charter High Schools have been widely lauded for their integration of the most up-to-date sustainable strategies, the latter project being the first LEED-Certified charter school facility in Los Angeles. JFAK is continuing to demonstrate leadership in the realm of sustainability with two new college projects being designed for LEED-Platinum status. These include a new Fitness and Athletics Center for Claremont McKenna College and the new Resnick Institute for the Science of Energy at Caltech.
For these and other projects, JFAK has received over 30 significant design distinctions, including 16 American Institute of Architect Chapter and State awards. In 2004, the firm’s LA Design Center received an AIA Institute Honor Award, widely accepted to be the most significant architecture award that a single project can win in the US. This was followed by the Rudy Bruner Silver Medal for Urban Excellence in 2007. JFAK’s work has been widely published worldwide in over 70 periodicals and books, including 6 cover features. Three of the firm’s projects are featured in Phaidon’s influential Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture, published in 2004. In recognition of these ongoing achievements, John and Alice were named as “Emerging Voices” in 2004 by The Architectural League of New York. Both partners lecture widely and have spoken at USC, University of Oregon, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pomona, the Nevada Museum of Art, Otis College of Art + Design, the Architectural League of New York, and Woodbury University. Recently, they presented their work at the ArpaFIL Architectural Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The work of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) begins with the premise that architecture has the power to dramatically affect people’s lives. JFAK exploits this potential to create new types of social spaces that encourage creative interaction, sustain the environment, and catalyze positive change for their users and their surrounding communities.
JFAK’s distinct formal landscapes are the result of an inquisitive design process that mines the possibilities and complexities of our contemporary, heterogeneous society. Every JFAK project is committed to expressing the aspirations and identity of the entity it represents through productive dialogue with its physical and cultural surroundings. Light-filled interior spaces are organized to create meaningful adjacencies and unexpected views, as well as to encourage a range of activities – from individual contemplation to communal interaction and creative teamwork.
The size, type, or budget of a project is not important to JFAK. Rather, the firm takes on projects that involve a meaningful design challenge and the promise of developing an innovative solution. This endeavor often involves the utilization of new types of performative materials in concert with the most current design software and fabrication technologies. For JFAK, new digital techniques are not an end in themselves, but tools to explore new types of efficiencies, forms, spaces, and branding possibilities.
As a matter of ethical and environmental urgency, JFAK applies the full range of sustainable strategies, whether they involve the most sophisticated engineering systems, simple passive techniques, or the choice of the most responsible materials. Casting its net as wide as possible, JFAK engages in collaborations with an ever expanding list of artists, engineers, scientists, builders, and other specialists. Whether these individuals are JFAK clients, consultants, or advisers, they become partners in a shared vision, one of creating integrated and sustainable environments that inspire their users and better their lives.
John Friedman was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1983, he earned a B.S. in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was the first Architecture student at MIT ever elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a three-time NCAA Division II All-American Water Polo Player, and an Academic All-American. After winning California’s Newton Tatum Scholarship in 1984, John attended Oxford University (Balliol College), where he received at M.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In 1990, he received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University and was awarded the American Institute of Architects Silver Medal. John was elevated to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 2007.
Alice Kimm was born in Chicago, but spent her high school years in Seoul, Korea. She received a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University in 1986 and a Master of Architecture degree in Architecture from Harvard University with a Letter of Commendation in 1990. In 1997, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study contemporary housing strategies in Korea. She is currently a Visiting Professor of Architecture at the University of Southern California where she concentrates on teaching new digital fabrication techniques and strategies. Alice was elevated to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 2010.