Neutra Medal given to local architect

By Matthew Saunders

Architect Michael Rotondi received the College of Environmental Design’s Richard J. Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence on Nov. 3 in the University Theatre.

Excitement and anticipation charged the air as students, faculty, staff and community members waited for Rotondi, a former Cal Poly Pomona student, to deliver his acceptance speech.

Michael Woo, dean of the College of Environmental Design, started off the event.

“We are very proud on how far Michael has come,” said Woo. “We are so grateful he has come back to Cal Poly to speak to us. This award means a great deal to architecture and to the college.”

After introductions, Rotondi took to the stage for the lecture part of the event. Rotondi told the audience about his time at CPP and showed several vintage pictures of the college in his presentation.

“There was always the idea in the back of my mind to come back and teach,” said Rotundi. “I am a firm believer that it does not matter what school you attend: what matters is the staff behind the school. Cal Poly Pomona is where I began to believe that it is possible to think in unordinary ways.”

Rotondi thanked all of the staff and his colleagues in his speech and mentioned the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), a school he helped create.

“If I had a magic wand, I would turn all the college students in the world to architecture majors,” said Rotondi.

“I would make all the majors besides architecture disappears. I would do this only because I feel people are currently not using their hands and minds when they learn. Architecture forces the student to use both to accomplish great things.”

Rotondi went on to talk about the ways architecture is incorporated in life. He believes many concepts of architecture can be applied to the living world.

He stressed the importance of creativity in the field of architecture. Rotondi believes “playing is essential,” as he sees it as “the essence of creativity.”

Rotondi discussed the subject of the mind’s eye in three subcategories: the lens, the gateway and the rabbit hole. The lens lets the architect see in a unique way, while the gateway connects him or her to the “third eye.” The rabbit hole is what Rotondi calls the “wonderland of imagination.”

Maya Reyes, a second-year architecture student, found out about the event from her professors.

“I had known about SCI-Arc going into the speech, but I did not know much about Rotondi going into it,” said Reyes. “I found his speech to be informative and interesting. I liked when Rotondi mentioned Cal Poly and how a hands on school is really a different experience.

“I also enjoyed how he made the connections to life, mind and body. I definitely feel more inspired after hearing him speak.”

Rotondi left a legacy at CPP that still inspires students to this date to chase their dreams and to leave a legacy of their own.


Chris Maciosek / The Poly Post


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