Geoffrey von Oeyen Design, founded in Los Angeles, leverages geometric relationships and site conditions to create visual overlays for the spatial registration of place. Current residential, commercial, and institutional commissions in North America and Asia serve as optical devices specifically adapted to represent familiar contexts in unanticipated ways, and are designed as geometric realignments that reframe and redirect views. Representing and transforming familiar typologies obliges Geoffrey von Oeyen Design to solve issues of daylight, space, and view as a source of recurring visual discovery. Perspectival alignments, geometric sequences, visual coincidences, shadow projections, daylight diffusion, erosion patterns, and other visual and material phenomena can be understood through an accretion of experiences in an around these projects over time, thus revealing spatial capacities latent in each design.
As Preston Scott Cohen states in the foreword of Young Architects: 16, Overlay, for the 2014 Architectural League Prize by Princeton Architectural Press: “von Oeyen extracts heretofore invisible spatial properties from the conventional, typological substrate of buildings. Rather than start with the ambition to generate novelty, von Oeyen, like Koolhaas and his forebearer exhibitors in Portoghesi’s Presence of the Past, prefers to discover new possibilities within the intractable givens, turning otherwise functionally necessary forms into optical devices that produce spatial experiences.” Whether by bisecting, redesigning, and reconstructing a 1960s house in Malibu to transform it into an optical device for registering the Pacific horizon, inverting the typical figuration of frontality, parking, and public space within three new buildings comprising a suburban Atlanta medical center, reconsidering the architectural opportunities of coastal dune erosion and storm surge resiliency in Puerto Rico, leveraging the skills of high-tech sailboat riggers in Los Angeles to fabricate operable canopies, or employing traditional village carpenters in rural China to assemble ruled surfaces, von Oeyen has intentionally sought opportunities to critically reinterpret regional building typologies and construction techniques to transform conventional experiences of place.
Geoffrey von Oeyen’s research is informed by a lifelong connection with design concepts and material techniques from sailing, including his role as the helmsman of Frank Gehry’s Beneteau First 44.7 and as a crew member aboard Greg Lynn’s experimental GF42 trimaran. As Le Corbusier wrote in Vers un architecture that ocean liners revealed the design paradigms that should inform architecture in the twentieth century, von Oeyen posits that sailing is paradigmatic of what twenty-first century architecture can become. Sailboats mediate between dynamic site conditions and spatial needs in real-time, and they do so through geometrically constructed forms that are synthetically designed for multiple and simultaneous uses. Von Oeyen has designed architectural projects, completed a MacDowell Fellowship, and organized academic symposia, workshops, exhibitions, and two advanced graduate studios regarding sailing and architecture. Through these experiences he has collaborated with the world’s leading sailing industry designers, naval architects, engineers, and composites manufacturers, and his students have been recognized in 2017 with two national design awards from the American Composites Manufacturers Association and an Honor Award from AIA Los Angeles. Writer Steve Miller compared von Oeyen’s work on performative composites to Schoenberg’s paradigm shift in music composition: “Geoffrey von Oeyen, designer and faculty member at the USC School of Architecture, seems to have discovered a 12-tone row for architects.”
Prior to founding Geoffrey von Oeyen Design and von Oeyen Architects, von Oeyen was an Associate at Gehry Partners, LLP. During his tenure at Gehry Partners from 2005 to 2011, von Oeyen played key roles in the design of several geometrically and technically complex, large-scale, culturally significant international projects, including the Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum in Paris, France, and the UTS Business School in Sydney, Australia. Geoffrey von Oeyen received his Master of Architecture (MArch) degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), where he accepted the Faculty Design Award and Architecture Chair’s Letter of Commendation. Prior to attending the Harvard GSD, he was a US/UK Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he received his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in the History and Philosophy of Architecture. Von Oeyen’s MPhil dissertation on Le Corbusier extended his undergraduate honors thesis from Stanford University, where he graduated with Honors in Urban Studies (AB) and minors in Art History and History.