three days of design

Is it possible to overdose on design? We don’t think so!


The fresh salty air and intimate atmosphere draws us back each year.

Featured Speakers

Hear their philosophy, see their work, and be inspired.

Networking Events

Wind down with our post-event meals, receptions and opportunities to connect.

About MDC 2017

MDC 2017 will take place once again at the beautiful Asilomar Conference Center – just steps from Asilomar State Beach.  Registration fees before August 4 are $520 (Member), $725 (Non-Member) and $245 (Emerging Professional Members).   REGISTER HERE.   Book your housing early to guarantee a spot on-site with the Asilomar Housing and Meal package – $588 for a two night stay or $875 for a three night stay with meals.  Save by booking double or triple room occupancy.  Check back often to stay informed about our 2017 speaker line-up!

A Brief History of the Monterey Design Conference

By Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, with thanks to Shelly Kappe, Hon. AIA; Paul Welch, Hon. AIA; David Meckel, FAIA, and Robert Ivy, FAIA

Entering its fourth decade, the Monterey Design Conference (MDC) brings together the country’s—and the world’s—leading architects and design thinkers for an intellectually vibrant weekend at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California. It emerged out of the 1978 AIA California Council Annual Meeting in Orange County, which the AIA California Council president, the late George Bissell, had dedicated to the theme of “design.” Bissell, “the father of MDC,” anointed a dynamic trio of co-chairs—Ray Kappe, FAIA, Timothy Vreeland, FAIA, and Bernard Zimmerman, FAIA, who conceived an ambitious format that anticipated today’s Pecha Kucha events: Groups of invited architects gave four-minute talks on their work in parallel sessions; each session had a designated recorder; and, at the end of the day, everyone got together and shared the results in a common “wrap-up” session.

Spurred by the excitement of that meeting, the AIACC inaugurated its first dedicated design conference the following year. Conference Chair Richard Saul Wurman—who went on to found the TED Conferences—dubbed it “Design 101,” inviting architects from the three states served by Highway 101 (California, Oregon, and Washington) to gather at the Monterey Convention Center. Held annually for its first few years, Design 101 soon outgrew its downtown facilities and in the mid-1980s moved to Asilomar, gaining both generous space and a glorious bayside setting amidst the buildings of Julia Morgan and John Carl Warnecke.

Merrill Hall Interior

Merrill Hall – Photo courtesey Asilomar

Designed by designers for designers, the now biennial MDC brings together a virtual Who’s Who of the design world in the remarkably intimate space of Morgan’s Merrill Hall, where every session is a plenary session. Presenters and participants alike comfortably span the generations. Around the turn of the millennium, David Meckel introduced a “Tribal Elders” session, which has since featured Pierre Koenig, Sym van der Ryn, Ray Kappe, Warren Callister and Jack Hillmer, William Krisel, and Paffard Keatinge-Clay. At the other reach of the career trajectory, the conference features “Emerging Talent,” future leaders of the profession. A film focused on some aspect of design culture, sometimes accompanied by the maker or the subject, provides an additional dimension to festivities. Shared meals and after-hours gatherings carry the discussion deep into the night.

AIA Executive Vice President Robert Ivy, former editor-in-chief of Architectural Record and long-time MDC master of ceremonies, sums up the remarkable fellowship that is the Monterey Design Conference: “Asilomar’s unique location—adjacent to the Pacific in a grove of trees, where wood smoke mingles with the salt spray—invites casual conversation, relaxation, and stimulation in a natural setting that encourages friendship and expansive thought.”

Conference Schedule


Exhibit Installation

Continuing Education Academy Sessions (CES)

Exhibits Open

Monterey Design Conference Opens/Featured Speakers

  • Marion Weiss, FAIA and Michael Manifredi, FAIA – Weiss/Manifredi, New York
  • Antón García-Abril and Débora Mesa – Ensamble Studio, Madrid

Welcome Reception / Exhibitor Networking


Dessert / Exhibitor Networking Hour

Evening Social Event – Fireside with Friends

Continuing Education Academy Session (CES) – Accessibility / (HSW) – Two Courses


Monterey Design Conference Featured Speakers

  • Sou Fujimoto – Sou Fujimoto Architects, Tokyo

Morning Break / Exhibitor Networking

Monterey Design Conference Featured Speakers

  • Heather Roberge, Murmer, Los Angeles

Lunch / Exhibitor Networking

Continuing Education Academy Sessions (CES) or Exhibitor Networking

Monterey Design Conference Featured Speakers

  • Shohei Shigematsu – OMA, New York
  • Jimenez Lai and Joanna Grant – Beau Spectacular, Los Angeles
  • Dominique Jakop – Jakob+Macfarlane, Paris

Wine Tasting Reception


Monterey Design Conference Featured Speaker

  • Ed Fella, Graphic Designer, Los Angeles

AIA Firm Award Celebration

Academy for Emerging Professionals (AEP) Mixer

Continuing Education Academy Session (CES) – Accessibility / (HSW) – Two Courses


Monterey Design Conference Featured Speakers

  • Julie Eizenberg, FAIA – Koning Eizenberg Architecture
  • Dorte Mandrup – Dorte Mandrup, Copenhagen

Closing Remarks


MDC Modern Home Tour*

*Additional fee and pre-registration required for this optional event.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium*

*Additional fee and pre-registration required for this optional event.


Sou Fujimoto
Sou Fujimoto Architects



Dominique Jakob



dorte mandrup
creative director, founder, professor, architect-maa



Marion Weiss, FAIA and Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA



Shohei Shigematsu



Julie Eizenberg, FAIA
KoningEizenberg Architecture



Bureau Spectacular



Ed Fella
Graphic Designer



Heather Roberge



Alan Tse, Assoc. AIA
Alan Tse Design



Reed Kroloff
MDC 2017 Emcee



Contact Us





More About MDC

MDC is dedicated to design. It is an open forum to a broad range of ideas and critical thinking people that shape our built environment. MDC is interested in being part of the conversation but not dictating it. The event is open to the voice of speakers, participants and those who attend. MDC is led by a dedicated committee of volunteers who spend countless hours in guiding and planning the event over the course of the year.

View photos from the 2015 Monterey Design Conference »

View the 2017 MDC Conference Committee list here. »

More Insights

Conference Registration Prices*
Early Bird Rates Good Through August 4
AIA Member/Allied Member – $520
Emerging / Associate Member – $245
Emeritus Member – $275
Non Member – $725
Student – $110
*Meals and housing costs are additional

OUR SPONSORSSponsor/Exhibitor Questions? Contact Hillary Krek at Hkrek@aiacc.org or (916) 642-1710.


Architectural Record

Asilomar Conference Grounds

800 Asilomar Avenue Pacific Grove, CA 93950

(831) 372-8016

get directions


image003Asilomar has been the home of the Monterey Design Conference over the course of four decades and it’s no wonder why. Celebrated as Monterey Peninsula’s “Refuge by the Sea” – Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds is a breathtakingly gorgeous 107 acres of ecologically diverse beachfront land. Situated within the quaint and scenic town of Pacific Grove, Asilomar offers guests the simple comforts of cozy cottages and rustic lodges – and an unforgettable escape from the demands of everyday life.

image004MDC is a spectacular and intimate affair, where beyond extraordinary lectures and speakers, attendees find themselves strolling on the beach, wandering the Julia Morgan designed grounds or sitting on the deck of the main lodge engaging in conversation with a Pritzker Prize winner or many of the most innovative and catalytic thinkers in architecture, as if they were invited into their own backyard. These encounters happen spontaneously and informally over the course of the conference, providing us with that raw inspiration that got us interested in architecture in the first place. Come to the architects retreat!

Book Early to stay at the Iconic Asilomar Conference Center!

Book your room early to ensure you enjoy the full MDC experience on-site.  You’ll find yourself strolling on the beach, wandering the Julia Morgan designed grounds or sitting on the deck of the main lodge engaging in conversation with a Pritzker Prize winner and other innovative and catalytic thinkers in architecture in this relaxed retreat setting.  PLEASE NOTE: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BOOKING YOUR OWN LODGING AT THE ASILOMAR (OR OTHER PROPERTY IF DESIRED). LODGING COSTS ARE IN ADDITION TO MDC REGISTRATION COSTS.  BOOKING THROUGH THE MDC HOUSING LINK BELOW ENSURES YOU RECEIVE THE MDC RATE WHICH INCLUDES YOUR MEALS FROM FRIDAY EVENING TO SUNDAY LUNCH (IF BOOKING FRI/SAT NIGHTS).  IF YOU BOOK OFF-PROPERTY OR ARE DRIVING IN, YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE MEALS WHEN YOU REGISTER.

THE ASILOMAR IS NEARLY SOLD OUT: The Asilomar is close to selling out, so AIACC has made arrangements with the Deer Haven Inn which is directly across the street from the Asilomar.  Please click the booking link to view the options both at the Asilomar and at the Deer Haven Inn.  Those booking rooms at the Deer Haven Inn will receive their meal tickets when they check in at the hotel.   If you have special requests when booking, please list them in the “additional requests” box when you book your housing.  If you have questions about the process, please contact us at conferences@aiacc.org.

Costs for the Deer Haven Inn are slightly higher than the Asilomar and are noted in the booking link.


Occupancy Type
Nightly Rate
# of Nights
Processing Fee
Single Room w Meals
$         567.96
Shared Room (per person cost) w Meals
$         376.24
Additional Adult Guest (3rd person in room)
$         185.90
Youth (3-12) Guest
$         131.72


Meals inclusive begins with dinner on arrival date and ends with lunch on the departure date. Rates above reflect rates with meal packages. If you are bringing a spouse or family member who is not participating in the conference and will not be eating meals on-site, please make note of that when you book your housing under the “Additional Requests.” Please specify your request and the Asilomar will reduce your cost accordingly for the guest(s) staying in your room who will not have a meal package on-site.

The total value of the reservation plus a $20 processing fee per person will be charged within 24 hours of booking.

Housing Cancellation Policy

For cancellations received by September 13, 2017, the Asilomar deducts a $100 per person cancellation fee to cover the cost of processing and handling. The Asilomar does not offer any refunds for cancellations made on or after September 14, 2017. (Email conferences@aiacc.org if you have a reservation that may be able to be transferred to someone else. We may be able to assist you in finding someone to assume your reservation.)
Click here for general information about the Asilomar Grounds and Asilomar Amenities. View a map of the Asilomar.

© 2017 Monterey Design Conference | 844-MDC-1979