Chris Genik, principal at Santa Monica-based Daly Genik Architects, is heading south. Currently director of the undergraduate architecture program at SCI-Arc, he has been named the dean of the NewSchool of Architecture + Design in San Diego. He begins his new post on October 4.
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Genik takes over for Gil Cooke, who held the position for the past nine years. His appointment will provide the 700-student school, which opened in 1980, a higher profile, and it will give Genik the opportunity, he says, to infuse the NewSchool’s curriculum and approach with what he calls “innovative and experimental practice.” With edgy projects like the Camino Nuevo School near LA’s MacArthur Park and the Palms residence in Venice, there’s no doubt that this approach has been a priority at the firm.
“Schools today are confronted by a profession that is in flux,” Genik said. “One thing I see as important is a natural curiosity about the world and an emphasis on the role of intuition.”
Genik said one his first priorities will be to restructure school studios to encourage innovation. That could mean group teaching, a far more prominent role of technology, and coordination with dominant industries in San Diego, like healthcare and aerospace.
He also hopes to focus on urban issues and to encourage the examination of the school’s immediate surroundings, of the Southern California “megaplex,” of the border area with Mexico nearby, and of the entire Pacific Rim. “We are really interested in urbanism and planning and I want to look at new and emerging ideas for the region.” Genik said.
Like SCI-Arc in LA, the NewSchool is located in its city’s urban core, and Genik said he looks forward to seeing the school’s immediate surroundings in the Gaslamp Quarter become more popular. He also hopes to establish a more active roster of events to help raise the school’s profile and encourage a greater community dialogue.
Genik will be on leave from his duties at Daly Genik, but will still play a major role at the firm. As colleague Kevin Daly puts it: “We’ve always anticipated the opportunities for the academic world to inform and influence what’s going on in the office.” Daly predicts great times ahead for the New School. “If you were an investment banker you’d see it as a seriously undervalued operation,” he said.