Michael Rotondi and Thom Mayne began working together informally in 1972 when SCI-Arc was founded. In 1975 they started a practice, which continued through 1991. They were among the 50 co-founders who conceived and built the school. Michael Rotondi was in the first graduating class. He joined the faculty soon after, and has been teaching there ever since. He founded and directed the graduate program (1978-87) prior to becoming SCI-Arc's second Director (1987-97). He is now a Trustee and Distinguished Faculty.
Michael and Thom (and Jim Stafford) began working together on Michael's thesis, an exploration of alternative education, this project was a lens to better understand, the first hand experiences of an emerging, self-organizing, radical alternative education being proposed at SCI-Arc in 1972. It was a thesis about the nature, theories, and practices in modern and contemporary education. The architectural proposition became an equivalent, formally, spatially, programmatically, and tectonically, of these theories, and practices. The thesis was conceived as a real project for a real school. It was submitted and received a P/A Award was published with the firm name of Morphosis, in January 1974.
In 1975, two years after graduating, from SCI-Arc, Roto and Thom began working together on a wide variety of real, hypothetical, and imaginary projects. Their affinities for, creative dialogue, contemporary architecture, and making things either full size or at scale, in any media available, was their bond. Both had similar creative interests and an intense motivation to express their ideas about the ways we live and work in the world, filtered through architecture. They both realized a more fundamental basis for their friendship - the desire to let others into their world via teaching.
The practice began in 1975 and continued until the end of 1991. The works of that period are well documented and published. RoTo Architects was founded in January 1992.