Posts tagged with "SCI-Arc":

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The Architectural Beast distorts architectural imagery at the FRAC Biennale

For the 2019 Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) Biennale in Orléans, France, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz-Alonso curated The Architectural Beast, an installation featuring 17 contemporary artists and architects. Together with Diaz-Alonso, Los Angeles-based designer Casey Rehm co-produced the installation: 12 paired video screens that nod towards Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Large Glass installation). The top panel exhibits printed images the artists have selected to represent their work, while the lower screens show that same imagery being transformed by artificial intelligence software developed by Rehm. Also named The Architectural Beast, the software was designed to independently alter the imagery presented over the course of the three-month installation. According to Rehm, the program's AI is "initially trained on curated datasets of images and texts of the artists representing an institutional understanding of architecture, to an understanding of architecture of populist valuation." The AI, in other words, spends each night conducting image searches for the day's most popular architectural images and then uses the results to manipulate the original imagery. "By the second month of its life," Rehm explains, "it should cross the 50 percent line of curated artist and internet images in its network."
"Through artificial intelligence," wrote Diaz-Alonso in the installation description, "the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind." The AI also uploads the imagery as individual posts on Instagram daily under the username @thearchitecturalbeast, each of which is complemented by cryptic texts that are developed by a separate AI program. This writing, which at first glance read like heavy theoretical essays with the aid of predictive text, was initially trained on the written work of Rehm, Liam Young, and Damjan Jovanovic. The combination of text and imagery created by The Architectural Beast demonstrates one way architects can let go of the wheel and give artificial intelligence greater agency in the role of human-centered design. The installation is currently on view through January 19.
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SCI-Arc launches new program on emerging topics in landscape architecture

Shortly after Hernan Diaz Alonso became the dean of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 2015, a suite of four postgraduate programs (Architectural Technologies, Design of Cities, Fiction and Entertainment, and Design Theory and Pedagogy) were offered that confirmed the progressive, speculative stance the school first took when it opened in 1972. Yesterday, SCI-Arc announced that a fifth postgraduate program will soon be added into the mix. Synthetic Landscapes will be a one-year, three-semester Master of Science degree program that, according to the school’s website, “focuse[s] on advancing knowledge and developing expertise in the design of complex landscapes for the twenty-first century.” Reflecting on the decision to establish the program, Postgraduate Programs chair David Ruy commented that “Landscape design, the often overlooked counterpart to building design, is increasingly becoming a primary arena for the development of ecological awareness and innovation.” The curriculum will incorporate lessons familiar to a landscape architecture program—including those of horticulture, botany, climatic systems, and zoology—while challenging the conventions currently present in landscape design to imagine alternate relationships between the built and natural environments. “There shouldn’t be a distinction in landscape between the metropolitan and the natural,” said SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso. “With Synthetic Landscapes, we're trying to figure out if there is a SCI-Arc way to conceptualize landscape architecture as a synthetic problem and tackle the largest scales of architectural thinking. I want to see if we can think of new forms of nature as a way to both produce and unsettle our built environments. Landscapes are cultural objects as much as anything else we would design.” Joining the Synthetic Landscapes program as visiting faculty will be Timothy Morton, a long-standing member of the Object-Oriented Ontology school of thought and author of more than 20 books on the subject, including The Ecological Thought (2010), Hyperobjects (2013), and Dark Ecology (2016). “Besides authoring what have already become seminal books,” said Ruy. “Timothy has also had a profound influence on cinema, music, fashion, and art. The opportunity to work closely with such an important thinker within the context of an exciting new landscape architecture program is truly unique.”
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Ray Kappe, founding director of SCI-Arc, dies at 92

Architect and founding director of SCI-Arc, Ray Kappe, passed away yesterday at 92 due to lung failure after battling pneumonia. Kappe had been an internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953. Before starting the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1972, Kappe founded the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University of Pomona and was recognized as a pioneer in architectural theory and education. SCI-Arc is now considered one of the top architecture schools in the United States.  As both a theorist and a practicing architect, Kappe’s work played a strong role in the legacy of early Southern California Modernism. “Only one architect truly signifies the seamless combination of Modernism and canyon vernacular, and his name is Ray Kappe,” Brad Dunning wrote in the New York Times in 2004. In 2013, Kappe was honored with the L.A. Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award for over 60 years in architectural practice and education. He had also been awarded the Richard Neutra International Medal for Design Excellence and the Topaz Medal, the highest award in architectural education.  Later in his career, Kappe worked with the custom home fabrication company LivingHomes, where he practiced his extensive research and applied techniques with “warm, modern” prefab housing. Stephen Kanner, co-founder and former president of the Architecture + Design Museum in Los Angeles once said, “Ray’s own home may be the greatest house in all of Southern California.”
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Barbara Bestor’s SCI-Arc commencement speech evokes L.A.'s unique architecture history

Despite its youth, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has educated a surprising number of figures that have come to define the field. One such figure is local architect Barbara Bestor, who graduated from the school with a master’s degree in 1992 and has since designed several prestigious projects in and around Los Angeles, including the Silverlake Conservatory for Music, and the Beats by Dre campus in Culver City, and also oversaw the renovation of the Silvertop Residence, a hillside home first built in 1956 by local legend John Lautner. As the commencement speaker for SCI-Arc’s 2019 graduation ceremony, Bestor elaborated on the storied history of the city and how it directly influenced her career. “I think that, like the city of Los Angeles,” began Bestor, “our culture of freedom as architects is a uniquely West Coast culture that's actually in touch with our past history.” She then went on to recount how the unique qualities of the city that inspired experimentation among luminaries including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Kappe, Deborah Sussman, and Rudolph Schindler, who had a “habit of driving around to job sites with a load of two-by-fours in his station wagon so that he could improvise new ideas in real-time.” Bestor then reminded the audience that the freedom afforded by the relative lack of history Los Angeles can be liberating but also daunting. “It demands that we grapple with big existential questions like ‘what am I doing here,’ ‘what's my artistic voice,’ and ‘will my voice ever be part of the larger architectural conversation around the world?’” Bestor’s way of first navigating the city’s creative landscape was to work on houses, coffee shops, clothing stores, kitchen renovations, and several other small projects. “Even the most pragmatic and mundane programs,” she explained, “contain some freedom for the architect to create extra value, ideas about gender politics, fun experiments, and so on.” Bestor ended her speech by advising her listeners, “whether you’re staying here in L.A., or going off to Mexico City, or Beijing, or Seoul,” to “take that sense of freedom with you… You are all now West Coast Architects... part of this great, living tradition of experimentation and innovation.” It seemed fitting that, following her speech, an honorary M.Arch degree was presented to Frank Gehry, an architect who has called Los Angeles his home since 1947 and found a career by tapping into the experimental spirit of the city recounted by Bestor.
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SCI-Arc undertakes all-school public charrette addressing homelessness

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Goethe-Institut will be holding a four-day charrette this weekend focused on generating ideas and approaches that could help address the prevalence of homelessness among Los Angeles residents. According to a press release issued by the school, all of SCI-Arc’s 506 students will be involved with the initiative, which starts Friday and runs through Monday evening. The event will feature contributions from a bevy of local and international experts, including Lorcan O’Herlihy, Frances Anderton, Deborah Weintraub, Mimi Zeiger, and other local politicians, designers, and non-profit directors. In a statement, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said, “SCI-Arc is committed to playing an integral role in solving the homeless crisis. We are committed not only because of our proximity to Skid Row but because there is a moral imperative and an architectural challenge. Design must be implemented as a means for social change.” Following a day-long symposium on Friday, students and interested parties will engage in a weekend-long research and design session that will culminate in a public exhibition on Monday evening. Several of the events will be available via livestream for those who cannot attend. See below for a full schedule of the charrette. Friday, January 11, 2019 W.M. Keck Hall Lecture Hall Welcome and Introduction 1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Goethe-Institut Director Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County Supervisor Livestream link Presentation: Framing the Problem 1:20 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Chris Ko, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 1 1:40 p.m. – 2:40 p.m. Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LA City Councilmember (Moderator) Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Jerry Ramirez, County Homelessness Initiative Christopher Hawthorne, LA City Chief Design Officer Thomas Newman, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 2 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Frances Anderton, KCRW (Moderator) Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer of Los Angeles Carlos Zedillo, Head of Pienza Sostenible Kevin Hirai, President of Flyaway Homes Lorcan O'Herlihy, Architect Livestream link Closing Remarks 4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Livestream link Saturday, January 12, 2019 Conversations Livestreamed 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Mimi Zeiger, Journalist and Curator Tanner Blackman, City Planner Volunteer faculty, alumni and guests Pin-up 2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Keck Hall SCI-Arc Students + Volunteer Faculty Livestream link Monday, January 14 Exhibition 4:00pm–7:00pm Student work exhibited throughout the school
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2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Student Work

2018 Best of Design Awards winner for Student Work: mise-en-sand Designer: Jonah Merris, University of California, Berkeley Nature is artificial, and occasionally, it is artifice. So how can architecture act as a register of constructed ground in the era of the human geomorphic agent? Jonah Merris designed mise-en-sand, a proposal for a 21st-century exposition that addresses the extraction and exploitation of sand, as a series of six composed set designs that would allow visitors to consider the high volume–low value-paradox of sand as a global commodity. The sites and processes depicted in these vignettes showcase the breadth of scales and geographies across which the construction and deconstruction of ground occurs. Within mise-en-sand, architecture becomes a performance wherein objects are staged and meaning implied—a sandbox where observers can reconsider naturalism as it applies to something as ubiquitous as sand. Honorable Mentions Project name: Cloud Fabuland Designer: Eleonora Orlandi, SCI-Arc Project name: Real Fake Designer: James Skarzenski, University of California, Berkeley
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Thom Mayne to take over SCI-Arc’s cities program

Thom Mayne of Morphosis will be rejoining the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) as a full-time distinguished faculty member as the new coordinator for the SCI-Arc EDGE Design of Cities postgraduate program. Mayne, one of the original founders of SCI-Arc, will be taking over the Design of Cities program from current coordinator David Ruy, who will stay on as head of postgraduate studies at the school. Regarding Mayne’s new post, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said:
“It is wonderful to have Thom Mayne come back home. He is a major part of what SCI-Arc is, was, and will be. Thom Mayne represents everything that we want our students to aspire to. Thom embodies the best aspirations of architecture as a historical, cultural, and political force that is unique among creative disciplines. Thom will help us to maintain the unique spirit of exploration that defines SCI-Arc. In the contemporary world, architectural thinking should be a platform for challenging the status quo. We welcome back to SCI-Arc, one of the pioneers of this idea.”
Mayne has extensive experience as an educator and has held teaching positions at Columbia, Yale, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands, the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and most recently at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Mayne led the school’s Suprastudio, among other institutions. The Design of Cities program is focused, according to the SCI-Arc website, “against the conventional wisdom that cities are hopelessly complex, informal networks beyond the reach of any design model, this program fundamentally believes in the power of the architectural imagination to create sustainable urban designs for the twenty-first century and beyond.” With a long legacy of urban- and sustainability-focused work and research under his belt and a growing momentum toward regional urban transformation in Los Angeles and California more broadly, expect to see Mayne’s provocative ideas take on new life as he undertakes his new position.
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The future of healing is probably virtual

I was sitting in a hot tub wearing VR goggles and rubber gloves, making swimming strokes with my hands, when a professor walked by, laughed, and waved hello. It may have seemed like some sort of goofy art project where all interested parties were having light-hearted fun, but in actuality, we were experimenting with something quite serious: the future of healing. I was testing CLOUD+ Labs, an immersive installation that combines the experience of VR with physical bathing rituals. Visitors to the spa put on headsets and relax in a jacuzzi hot tub in order to experience a virtual, cave-like spa-world, while a Siri-like voice gives them a guided meditation and psychic reading—based on their Google search history. The “individualized internet guided healing sessions” are a project by Leah Wulfman, a student in the Fiction and Entertainment program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Downtown Los Angeles. Here, architecture is not necessarily a formal endeavor, nor one that is expressed in plan, section, and models. Rather, architecture—whatever that means—is  invented as a relatively small part of a flattened cultural landscape where seeing and living are projected through the creation of new worlds via filmmaking. CLOUD+ Labs is built like a wellness center, complete with receptionist, changing area, robes, bathing suits, and treatment areas. Here, rather than drinking the latest adaptogen blends and doing pilates, the drink of choice is CLOUD+, “Water enhanced physically and spiritually by our data…highly customized and harmonized to your individual internet activity.” https://vimeo.com/291617383 This drink is a metaphor for the script Wulfman wrote, which scrapes Google search data—you have to give her your email and password (!)—and gives you a reading of your past, present, and future. The ritual is based on the Korean spa, where bathing is an indulgent and relaxing activity. In this virtualized version, the internet search history not only fills in for the human psychic, it also adds a layer of meditative reflection. The fictional water brand and spa are slickly branded using the rhetoric of technology and wellness. From the project description:
Following this release of customized products, the CLOUD+ LABS are preparing to open a CLOUD+ enhanced water treatment center. Assembling new purification rituals for the digital age, CLOUD+ LABS allow guests to soak, regenerate and cleanse themselves and their smart devices in data enhanced water. Connect to reconnect. The CLOUD+ wellness guide supports improved, intentional connection to achieve holistic self awareness and restoration.
According to Wulfman, “The piece edges you towards oneness with the internet and your digital identity, while allowing you to recognize and reflect on the process through which this identity is formed in the first place.” Custom scripts using Google’s API mine the entirety of the user’s search history, upload it, and scan it for certain patterns that might lead to conclusions about the user, albeit quite vague, like a real psychic’s musings. This ambiguity leads to more opportunity for reflection and interpretation. One user left a review on the real feedback page on cloudpluslabs.booksy.com, completing the experience of CLOUD+ Labs. It is all very “real,” even if it feels virtual. Is it the future of healing? For some, it probably actually is. https://vimeo.com/291224792
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Mónica Ponce de León and Oyler Wu Collaborative are among 2018 ACADIA Award winners

ACADIA, or the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, established the ACADIA Awards of Excellence to recognize outstanding individuals and practices that think critically about the impact and possibilities of computer-aided design. This year, the ACADIA Awards recipients, including Mónica Ponce de León and Oyler Wu Collaborative, will present their work at the conference titled Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City from October 18–20. Dean of Princeton University School of Architecture Mónica Ponce de León won the Teaching Award of Excellence. Ponce de León is a Venezuelan-American architect who is also a renowned educator. She is the founding principal of MPdL Studio, which has officesin New York, Boston, and Ann Arbor. Prior to her deanship at Princeton, she was dean of University of Michigan’s Taubman College and a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). The awards committee commended her for the “integration of digital technologies into architectural education.” Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler, partners at Oyler Wu Collaborative, were awarded with the Digital Practice Award of Excellence. The L.A.-based, award-winning firm is widely recognized for its expertise in material research and digital fabrication. The firm is known for projects such as The Exchange in Columbus, IN, the 2013 Beijing Biennale installation named The Cube, and their installations and pavilions with SCI-Arc. The partners are both currently teaching at SCI-Arc and Harvard GSD. Other awards included the Innovative Academic Program Award of Excellence, given to the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia; the Innovative Research Award of Excellence bestowed upon NVIDIA robotics researcher Dr. Madeline Gannon; and the Society Award of Excellence won by Association for Robots in Architecture co-founders Sigrid Brell-Cokcan and Johannes Braumann. Check out the complete list of winners here.
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SCI-Arc exhibit will explore post-digital attitudes toward environment and landscapes

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has announced Environment[al], a forthcoming exhibition curated by Herwig Baumgartner and Marcelyn Gow that will explore “contemporary attitudes toward environment in a post-digital context.” The exhibition and installation will feature the work of a slate of renowned international designers, architects, and landscape architects as it seeks to examine the changing character of environmental concerns in the face of technological innovation and climate change.  According to a press release, Environment[al] will feature the work of Izaskun Chinchilla of Izaskun Chinchilla Architects, Enric Ruiz Geli of Cloud 9, Carme Pinós of Estudio Carme Pinós, Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Gilles Retsin, and Günther Vogt of Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten.  The exhibition will be supported by a panel discussion taking place June 15th that will feature Baumgartner, Chinchilla, Geli, Gow, Restin, and Vogt as well as Violeta Burckhardt, Vittoria Di Palma, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso, and SCI-Arc history and theory coordinator Marrikka Trotter. The exhibition will seek to engage with the ways sites, objects, and spaces generate “multiple authenticities” in contemporary constructed environments and will include transforming the school’s campus gallery into an interactive installation. The gallery will be transformed into a “landscape/substrate” designed as a diagrammatic facsimile representing the soil and geologic conditions of the Owens Valley to the northeast of Los Angeles. The space will also host a “sound map” installation portraying recordings taken along the banks of the Los Angeles River that will play when participants interact with elements of the installation.  The exhibition is slated to open at the school’s campus gallery June 15, 2018. 
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Kanye West launches “Yeezy Architecture” studio after visit to SCI-Arc

Following another recent Twitter spree and a series of problematic, rambling public interviews, multidisciplinary artist and designer Kanye West has announced the creation of a new architecture arm called “Yeezy Home” that will seek to expand West’s creative output to include architectural and urban design.  In a late-night tweet, the Hidden Hills, California-based rapper solicited the talent of aspiring designers, calling for “architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better.”  https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/993221454740185088?s=21 West’s cryptic tweet comes just over a week after the controversial creative visited the Southern California Institute of Architecture’s (SCI-Arc) Spring Show, a showcase of the school’s spring semester work. The visit prompted a tweet from Kanye highlighting the work of M.Arch I student Ashley Morgan Hastings and her desalination-focused project.  Following the visit, West tweeted out praise for the student: https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/990734224670867456?s=21 West has a long history of associating himself and collaborating with architects and designers, including a 2012 collaboration with Dutch architects OMA for the design of the 7 Screen Pavilion project, a pyramid-shaped projection room used to screen West’s Cruel Summer film at the Cannes Film Festival.  Amid an earlier tweetstorm two weeks ago, West unveiled Axel Vervoordt-designed the interiors for the mausoleum-like Hidden Hills home shared with wife Kim Kardashian. The top-secret designs follow previous collaborations with New York City-based Family and London, England-based architect John Pawson.  After proclaiming his “obligation to show people new ideas” following West’s renewed support for Donald Trump in a recent song, Kanye’s latest foray into design seems to be more involved, however. CityLab reports that the rapper recently purchased a 300-acre property in Los Angeles that West intends on developing himself. In a wide-ranging interview with Charlemagne Tha God, West hints at his future plans, saying, “Yeah, we’re going to develop cities.”
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SCI-Arc show postulates a fictional energy future that doesn't go far enough

In a recent installation at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Mark Foster Gage Architects attempts to bring the notion of parafictional art fantasy to the realm of architecture—with mixed results. Gage’s Geothermal Futures Lab considers the notion that, given the current regime of “fake news” and “post-truth” reality, architects might have renewed license to create new visions for the future rooted primarily in fantasy. In lectures and writings, Gage argues that architects from Vitruvius onward have always engaged in some form or another with parallel or alternate versions of reality through their works and that conditions are ripe today for this tendency to take hold once again. Furthermore, Gage posits that these efforts represent a facet of the Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) school of thought and could potentially be used to fend off the ever-increasing erosion—or flattening—of a shared reality that occurs when the people who lead and represent the nation are fundamentally preoccupied with telling lies. In the exhibition text, Gage asks, “Might architecture’s power in this new world be conducted through an elasticity of the real that encourages citizens to develop doubt about their presented realities—and therefore perhaps become more resistant to ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts?’” For the installation, Gage seizes this opportunity as a justification for postulating a new energy-generation technology called “laser ablation geothermal resonance” that draws its power from sources deep below the surface of the earth in order to sustainably supply Los Angeles with over two-thirds of its daily energy needs. To convey the fundamentals of this fictional energy revolution, Gage fills the SCI-Arc gallery with a stage setting meant to approximate a control center for the power generator, installing lab equipment, a metal detector, a faceted gold-leaf-covered reactor, a pile of rocks, and a collection of high-powered lasers and imaginary technical drawings for display. Technically speaking, the student-produced machine drawings are exquisite in their effusive and cheeky detail. Drawn to convey exploded axonometric views of the reactor and other components, the starkly outlined assemblage drawings also incorporate recognizable pop cultural elements, with hidden My Little Pony and Mr. Potato Head figurines buried within the constructions. The reactor mock-up is impressive in its detailing as well; it features the fractal and agglomerated geometries Gage’s other academic work is known for, while spewing fog from its lower extremity. But overall, the exhibition—and Gage’s interpretation of what parafictional fantasy in the era of “fake news” can provide to the field of architecture—falls flat. It’s not the physical objects that result from Gage’s exploration that are in question, but rather the interpretations that underlie them. For one, it belies a fundamental misreading of the current political-cultural moment to describe the Trumpian notion of “fake news” as a symptom of the so-called “great flattening” of intellectual hierarchies OOO represents. Practically speaking, “fake news” is not so much a product of the erosion of objective truth as much as it is an acknowledgment of multiple, covalent, and oftentimes contradictory perspectives that have always existed. Like it or not, “fake news” represents not merely plurality, but a new era of simultaneity writ large. The president and his lackeys have not so much created a fantasy world for their devotees to occupy as elevated a parallel existence that has always been very real to its adherents. In a lecture supporting the exhibition, Gage cites the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements as emblematic of “flattening” as well, a comparison that also doesn’t really apply. If OOO ideology is rooted in the “removal of human as primary subject” from perceived reality, how can two movements entirely rooted in acknowledging and prioritizing the fundamental humanity and agency of two often-maligned social groups serve as a case study? The comparison is flawed and problematic, representing a misunderstanding of not just what drives these movements, but also of what we can learn from them as architects, as well. And lastly, like so many other recent attempts at projecting future scenarios, the project is not really “speculative” in the literal sense and represents merely an intensification of existing modes and technologies, raising the question: If architecture’s power right now lies in its ability to speculate, what does it mean to have so many of its fantasies seem so underwhelmingly conventional? Southern California Institute of Architecture January 26 through March 4