Posts tagged with "SCI-Arc":

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Frank Gehry to teach “The Future of Prison” course at SCI-Arc

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) announced last winter that architect Frank Gehry would be teaching one of the school’s elective vertical studios for the spring 2017 semester. According to an image promoting the studio on the university’s Instagram, the studio is titled “The Future of Prison” and “calls on emerging architects to break free of current conventions and re-imagine what we now refer to as ‘prison’ for a new era.”

Could Gehry and his students re-imagine the carceral system the way his firm did with tourist-driven arts destinations? Perhaps the class could propose new designs for the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown Los Angeles, the 757-bed jail located just one mile from the SCI-Arc campus. The jail is due to be replaced sometime between 2027 and 2030 under the auspices of the city’s new Civic Center Master Plan. If rebuilt elsewhere, planners would be wise to look to Gehry’s SCI-Arc studio for ideas and inspiration.

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Watch Slavoj Žižek and Graham Harman argue at SCI-Arc

Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) hosted controversial philosopher Slavoj Žižek last week during the most recent installment of the university’s Duel + Duets speakers’ series. The event—moderated by Anna Neimark, SCI-Arc faculty and principal at architecture firm First Office —took the form of an extended debate between Žižek and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SCI-Arc, Graham Harman. In opening the debate, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz-Alonso lauded the speakers as necessary poles in philosophical discourse, saying, “these are two thinkers that are fearless: They don’t operate in gray zones. They have clear, strong opinions and they define different views. That’s something that we treasure (at SCI-Arc).” Debate strayed across the philosophical spectrum and included a full-throated explanation by Harman of the Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) theory. Of course, Žižek issued an extended, hilarious rebuttal. Žižek, who controversially supported Donald Trump during the 2016 election, commented on the current political situation in the United States, calling Trump an “assemblage” of cultural and political currents. Despite the setting, the conversation stayed largely away from architectural matters except in the most abstract terms, including a reference to the architectural symbolism of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Harman argued that at this unstable political moment, architects should make a turn toward formalism. Ultimately, the trio duked it out for nearly two hours, including an extended back-and-forth with the audience. SCI-Arc has posted a recording of the entire talk to its Facebook page.
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SCI-Arc and Woodbury University both launch new architectural scholarships

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Woodbury University School of Architecture in Los Angeles separately announced new scholarship opportunities for students this week. SCI-Arc’s latest new scholarship program—the third such new initiative launched in the last year by the university—is part of a new partnership with the country of Colombia aimed at benefitting students attending the university's new SCI-Arc Bogota program. SCI-Arc Bogota was launched last year in order to create a pipeline for Colombian and South American students seeking access to SCI-Arc’s undergraduate and graduate architectural programs. In a press release announcing the new scholarship, SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso said, “We are happy to continue expanding SCI-Arc’s relationship with diverse parts of the world,” making reference to the Bogota location as well as the recently-opened SCI-Arc Mexico outpost in Mexico City the school also debuted last year. The new initiative will be helmed by Juan Ricardo Rincon Gaviria, principal at Taller Paralelo Arquitectos in Bogota, a noted international firm. SCI-Arc Bogota’s educational program also includes a double-degree accreditation with the University of the Andes’ masters program and a full annual scholarship grant for Colombian students with the Foundation for the Future of Colombia (COLFUTURO).  COLFUTURO was founded in 1991 by public and private sector leaders in the country to “promote, guide, and finance graduate studies for Colombian professionals” attending international universities. The foundation benefits a selected student who is awarded up to $50,000 over two years in financing. SCI-Arc’s new scholarship aims to match this amount for the selected student. Applications for the foundation’s Loan-Scholarship program are due February 28; the winner of the scholarship will be announced in May 2017. Woodbury University also announced this week that initial contributions to the Norman R. Millar Scholarship Endowment fund had surpassed $30,000. The fund, which will benefit the school’s overall architectural scholarship programs, was started by the university after Millar’s death early last year. Starting in 1999 Millar served as dean of the university’s architecture school and is credited with helping increase its enrollment threefold over the course of his tenure. Millar also focused strongly on increasing diversity at the school and was instrumental in developing the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) initiative through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). IPAL facilitates students’ ability to complete the requirements necessary for architectural licensure concurrently along with their degrees. In a press release announcing the scholarship fund’s endowment, Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter, interim dean, Woodbury School of Architecture, lauded Millar’s contributions to the university, saying “Norman’s talent and experience as a practitioner and vision as an educator helped thousands of young people achieve success in the field of architecture. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear from a former student, colleague or fellow architect whose career was inspired by Norman’s leadership, and who wishes to honor his legacy by making a contribution to the scholarship endowment established in his memory.” Donations can be made to the Norman R. Millar Scholarship Endowment here.
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Slajov Žižek and others to speak at SCI-Arc during Spring semester

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has released a list of its featured public programs for the Spring 2017 semester that includes, among its events, a debate between controversial Slovenian philosopher Slajov Žižek and SCI-Arc Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Graham Harman. SCI-Arc’s lecture series will be complemented by two exhibitions that will occur throughout the semester. The Duck and the Document, curated by Sylvia Lavin, will showcase a collection of architectural ephemera that includes handrails and facade panels salvaged from canonical buildings from the 20th century. Drawing Conclusions, curated by Jeffrey Kipnis and designed by Andrew Zago, will explore the year of 1990 as a potential “apex” for hand drawing as a representational, technical, and conceptual tool for architects. The university's public program for the semester will include the following events: Didier Fiuza Faustino Lecture, 01/25/2017 Mat Olson Lecture, 02/01/2017 José Oubrerie: Chapel of the Mosquitos Library Gallery Exhibition Opening, 02/03/2017 José Oubrerie + Todd Gannon Duel + Duet, 02/06/2017   Graham Harman + Slajov Žižek Duel + Duet, 03/01/2017 Peter Cook Lecture, 03/08/2017 Neil M. Denari Lecture, 03/15/2017 Jeffrey Schnapp Lecture, 03/20/2017 Drawing Conclusions Symposium + Exhibition Closing Reception, 03/24/2017 Sylvia Lavin Lecture, 03/29/2017 Jake Matatyaou + Amalia Ulman Lecture, 04/03/2017 Giancarlo Mazzanti Lecture, 04/05/2017 The Duck and the Document SCI-Arc Gallery Exhibition Opening Reception, 04/14/2017 Spring Show Exhibition Opening Reception, 04/29/2017 Maxi Spina: Thick SCI-Arc Gallery Exhibition Opening Reception, 06/16/2017 For more information on SCI-Arc’s events, see the SCI-Arc website.
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SCI-Arc announces scholarship benefitting Los Angeles public schools students

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has announced a new, full-tuition scholarship for incoming undergraduate first-year students hailing from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The merit-based scholarship will be available starting with the class of 2017-2018 and can be extended to cover all five years of tuition at SCI-Arc so long as the student is able to remain within the top 10-percent of their class. In a press release publicizing the new award, SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso affirmed the institution’s relationship to Los Angeles, stating, “SCI-Arc is embedded in the fabric of Los Angeles. With this scholarship we are reaffirming our relationship to the city’s public education system.” Alonso added, "We are proud of our well-rounded and rigorous Undergraduate program. A Bachelor of Architecture from SCI-Arc provides a creative way to see the world not only in architectural terms, but in sociological, political, and economic terms as well.” The award represents the second new full-tuition scholarship offered by SCI-Arc in the last few weeks. The institution announced a new set of scholarships for its technology- and urbanism- focused SCI-Arc EDGE programs earlier this month. Those awards were announced in order to, as Chair of Postgraduate Programs at SCI-Arc David Ruy explained in a statement for that scholarship, showcase SCI-Arc’s “commitment to forward-thinking scholarship and research during what has now become clear as an uncertain moment in history.” The awards also come as institutions and local governments, responding to the uncertainty generated by Donald J. Trump’s unexpected election win, move to fortify and expand existing programs meant to help disadvantaged and minority students. Applications for the 2017-2018 school year are due by January 15, 2017. For more information, please visit SCI-Arc’s official website.
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SCI-Arc announces new series of full-ride scholarships

The recently-announced scholarships would cover the full cost of tuition at the Los Angeles—based university and will be awarded to applicants in each of the three-semester postgraduate degree programs encompassing SCI-Arc EDGE (see list below). The degrees will be available to domestic and international applications and be given based on merit. Announcing the new funding in a press release, Chair of Postgraduate Programs at SCI-Arc, David Ruy made the following statement, saying, “I’m extremely proud to announce these new scholarships. It represents SCI-Arc EDGE’s complete commitment to forward-thinking scholarship and research during what has now become clear as an uncertain moment in history.”    The SCI-Arc EDGE program is encompassed by four separate degree tracks that include:
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Architectural Technologies (Master of Science in Architectural Technologies), a program that aims to establish a new technological discourse for architecture, an open-ended platform for practical training and theoretical research, and SCI-Arc’s international reputation for technological innovation in architectural design.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Fiction and Entertainment (Master of Arts in Fiction and Entertainment), a program that aims to pioneer new forms of fiction and entertainment creation by using Los Angeles as a critical laboratory.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Design of Cities (Master of Science in the Design of Cities), a program that seeks to apply architectural thinking to the design and production of cities and urban environments for the future.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Design Theory and Pedagogy, (Master of Science in Design Theory and Pedagogy), a program that requires a applicants to have attained a terminal degree in architecture for admission (B Arch, M Arch, or equivalent) prior to attending, and that aims to “development an intellectual framework that can sustain a life-long theoretical project in architecture.”
The deadline for SCI-Arc EDGE’s postgraduate degree programs is January 15, 2017. For more information, please visit SCI-Arc’s official website.
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Of prophets and professionals: a response to Peter Zellner

Though I share some of his concerns about the state of contemporary architectural education, I was taken aback by comments from my friend and colleague Peter Zellner in a recent editorial in this paper. In “Architectural Education Is Broken—Here’s How to Fix It,” Peter offers a five-point critique of contemporary education and a matching five-point prescription for a “post-studio and post-digital architectural education.” The criticism, gleaned from twenty-five-year-old comments by John Baldessari about the artist’s development of a “post-studio” course at CalArts nearly 50 years ago, takes aim at hierarchical master-disciple relationships between teachers and students, at the proliferation of academic styles that often result from them, and at the suppression of dissenting opinions such situations often entail. His prescription for change unfolds along a familiar, if vague, trajectory that valorizes shared knowledge, free experimentation, and egalitarian exchange among students and teachers. Some of Peter’s criticisms are justified, if a bit overblown. “Various forms of academic cult worship” indeed exist in architecture schools today, and this “pied-piperism,” to borrow a term from Eric Moss, has led many a promising student into unproductive territory. In my experience, though, most of those lost sheep eventually find their way home, and more often than not they return primed to parlay experience gained in foreign fields into significant contributions within the disciplinary fold. Peter’s complaints about the nefarious forces of digital technology, on the other hand, lack both specificity and substance. He merely states, rather than argues, his contention that digital tools foreclose creativity, and dismisses without comment not only the obvious achievements of several decades of innovative work at schools around the globe but also of his own students. Worse, the statement is not his own, but rather a quote from Peter Eisenman, which adds to an air of older generations kvetching about newfangled habits and, like his invocation of Baldessari, undermines his admonition against undue authority invested in the pronouncements of elder statesmen. However problematic, Peter’s criticisms are for the most part innocuous. I have more serious concerns about his proposals for change. His recipe for post-studio education rests on a specious, if common, elision of art and architecture and a ludicrous, if equally common, contention that architecture “can’t be taught.” Such arguments brush aside significant differences between art and architecture and perpetuate damaging mystifications about the nature of architectural practice and education. I agree with Peter’s assertion that architecture is an art form. But unlike painting, literature, music, and other modes of artistic production, it is also a profession with significant ethical and legal responsibilities, and a discipline with cultural ambitions to advance the public imagination. The latter aspect distinguishes the practice of architecture from the craft of building. The former distinguishes it from the production of fine art. Peter and I share a deep commitment to architecture understood as a cultural practice with professional responsibilities, as opposed to a design profession with cultural ambitions. Nonetheless, I take issue with his proposals, which, in spite of his criticism of a supposedly style-obsessed status quo, continue to portray architecture almost exclusively in aesthetic terms, pay only passing lip service to “technical knowledge,” overemphasize issues of style and individual expression, and disregard questions of professional competence. Any serious proposal about architectural education must take the full gamut of architecture’s professional and disciplinary responsibilities into account. More damaging is Peter’s proposition, also borrowed from Baldessari, that architecture cannot be taught. Apparently, the best we can do is to “set up a situation where [architecture] might happen.” This is a bizarre idea to be put forward by such an intelligent and effective teacher as Peter Zellner. Peter proposes that we can’t teach architecture because he conceives of architecture, as Baldassari apparently conceives of art, as a mystical quality, a transubstantiation of physical matter into some higher form of existence. This is the sort of stuff that routinely pours from the mouths of those academic shamans Peter rails against in his essay. It can be seductive, to be sure, but it is nonsense. Architecture doesn’t just happen. Architecture is made. Architecture can be made, and its methods taught, because “architecture” refers not to a specific object but rather to evidence that an object—usually but not always a building—has been produced in terms of a specific way of working. Just as literature cannot be reduced to books, architecture cannot be reduced to buildings. Neither can it be reduced to drawings, models, or digital animations. Architecture is method all the way down. The Oxford English Dictionary defines architecture not as a kind of building but rather as “the art or science of building.” Another Peter, the historian better known as Reyner Banham, put it better: “What distinguishes architecture is not what is done… but how it is done.” Understanding architecture as having to do with how  rather than what  makes it easier to see that architecture is, like all academic disciplines, a cultural construct. Its techniques and methods, its history and theory, the habits and conventions of those who practice it, can and routinely are taught and learned, as evidenced by the surfeit of students who quickly master the tactics of their teachers that Peter laments in his essay. Of course, those techniques, histories, habits, and conventions also can be developed, transformed, thrown out, and replaced as needed. Such activities rank among the most important work that takes place in architecture schools. Understanding architecture this way also makes it easier to see that the field’s value system, its internal methods for identifying what constitutes good and bad work, is always a work in progress. Architectural quality, like architecture itself, is determined not by the presence or absence of some quasi-spiritual attribute in an object but rather by consensus. Constituencies in support of any architectural work must be constructed long before the project can be built, and even if constructed buildings are not one’s aim, it is an ability to assemble such constituencies, and little else, that transforms individual interests into relevant contributions and, in some cases, canonical achievements. In other words, architecture’s aesthetic ambitions are deeply political. And the disciplinary politics of architectural education, as Peter intimates in his essay, can make for some pretty ugly situations. Luckily, contemporary architecture can and does support a wide range of coexisting genres and associated value systems. In the best schools, a handful of them vie for dominance, motivating proponents of each to hone their political as well as their aesthetic and technical chops as they make their respective cases and build their respective constituencies. In the worst ones, well-meaning but misguided faculty utter empty pronouncements like “you can’t teach architecture.” There are plenty of issues with contemporary architectural education today, and I commend Peter for having put some of them on the table. But at the top of any list of things to fix in architecture schools must surely be the abdication of so many faculty of their responsibility to teach it. Todd Gannon is the Cultural Studies Coordinator at SCI-Arc.
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Eleventh edition of SCI-Arc’s academic journal Offramp hits the internet

The Southern California Institute for Architecture (SCI-Arc) released the eleventh edition of its yearly academic journal Offramp this week. This time, the journal pursues the theme of “Ground” and lists SCI-Arc director and CEO Hernan Diaz Alonso as Editor-In-Chief. In a brief for the issue, Alonso puts forth the following provocation: “Issue #11 of Offramp aims to momentarily divert our critical gaze away from the architectural object in order to reflect upon its other: the ground. In a world increasingly resistant to dichotomies between human activity and the natural environment, how should architects conceive of sites, territories, topographies and other manifestations of ground?” The online-only, submissions-based hodgepodge of neo-postmodern eye candy is made up of ten articles supported by heady text and flashy imagery. The issue features an interview with Tom Wiscombe by Zachary Tate Porter, 2015-2016 Design Theory Fellow at SCI-Arc and founder of Office of Contingent Affairs, a thought-experiment of extruded sandwich-inspired buildings by Jennifer Bonner of MALL, a review of Jorge Otero-Pailos’s “Ethics of Dust” by Carolyn Strauss of Slow Research Lab, and a musing on color and background by Erin Besler and Ian Besler of Besler and Sons. The eleventh issue also hosts essays by Nora Wendl, Florencita Pita, Neyran Turan, Alexander Robinson, Stephen Nova, and Benjamin Flowers. Current and past issues of Offramp can be accessed here.
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SCI-Arc students and Habitat for Humanity design a sustainable home in South L.A.

Students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, have designed and built a three bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home in L.A.’s West Athens neighborhood. The home, formally known as IVRV House, was developed in a studio led by SCI-Arc faculty member Darin Johnstone and focuses on sustainable and healthy materials throughout. The dwelling was recently purchased by a veteran. The structure’s black metal panel-clad front facade features a garage door, false front door, and second floor picture window, the latter two of which are deeply inset into the wall and feature chamfered frames. The structure’s roof, a modified clipped gable, acts as an oculus for an interior courtyard that connects the false front door to the garage and main entry. This courtyard is clad in what the designers call an 'Eco-Screen,' a floor-over-roof wrapper designed to filter air and provide a secure, shaded outdoor space for residents. The structure’s second floor also contains an opening that looks onto this courtyard, which contains a small planted area. The house’s interiors are spartan, featuring crisp stucco walls and polished concrete floors. The house’s backyard facade features many more openings and is topped by a traditional gable-end roof. A dedication ceremony for the house is scheduled for June 24th at 10 AM.
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SCI-Arc announces full tuition scholarship for young European architects

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has announced a new scholarship open to European architecture students that will fully cover tuition for its two-year Master of Architecture program. Dubbed the European Union 2016 scholarship, it will provide young residents of the European Union with the opportunity to study at SCI-Arc’s Downtown Los Angeles campus. Graduate Program Chair Elena Manferdini received an undergraduate degree in her native Italy before studying architecture at UCLA and is now leading this scholarship program. “I know firsthand how a scholarship and the trust of an institution can change someone’s career,” said Manferdini in a SCI-Arc press release. “At 22, I came to Los Angeles on a scholarship to pursue a Master of Architecture degree. Twenty years later, I have built a career in this country; now, as Graduate Chair of one of the most prestigious architectural schools in the US, I am proud to be able to give back and offer the same opportunity to another talented young architect to realize his or her dreams by receiving a full tuition scholarship to study at SCI-Arc.” SCI-Arc has a large international community, with over half its students hailing from one of 46 different countries. According to SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso, “Europe has always had and continues to have a critical and decisive role in how architecture is shaped.” According to SCI-Arc, this scholarship will help it grow its international presence and enable a meeting of the minds between Europe and US based architecture students. In order to be eligible for the European Union 2016 scholarship, students must provide proof of citizenship of any of the European Union’s 28 member countries as well as an architecture degree equivalent to a United States undergraduate degree. The deadline for submission will be June 30, 2016. More information about the scholarship can be found at the SCI-Arc website.
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Art and architecture takes over a motel in L.A. for one night only

One-Night Stand LA (ONSLA) is holding its second annual pop-up art show May 14th at the Holiday Lodge Motel in Los Angeles’s Westlake neighborhood. The tongue-in-cheek name comes from the ephemeral nature of an exhibition that brings together dozens of various emerging art and architecture practices in one courtyard motel for one night only. “This event was in response to social media,” Anthony Morey, co-founder of ONSLA said in a press release for the event. “Instead of viewing work online, like most of us already do, we decided to hold an annual event to give people an opportunity to see work in person.” The show was conceived by Morey, William Hu, and Ryan Tyler Martinez as a platform for a wide spectrum of artists and architects to “explore vices, provocations, tendencies, or questions that kept them awake at night” in 2015. Aside from holding the exhibition for a single night, the organizers also pledge to show a featured practices’ work only once, aiming to establish a rotating door for new creative suitors for the L.A. arts scene that opens once every year. Last year’s show featured the work of 20 emerging creative practices, many with ties to the organizers’ alma mater, Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) including Mike Nesbit, Besler and Sons, and Sarah Newby. As a result, that year's program showcased a provocative array of digital media-heavy installations, including virtual reality projections and cuddling robots. This year’s show promises more of the same, with ONSLA exhibiting work in each of the motel’s rooms as well as in various locations scattered across the site. 2016's happening is guest curated by Duygun Inal, Debbie Garcia, and Jonathan Crisman and focuses on the theme of “Rendezvous,” that, according to the curators, “encompasses a lot of feelings coming with an expectation but being open to anything that may or may not happen.” Curators Inal and Garcia told AN via telephone, "We are excited to see a lot of construction processs-based work this year. We like to showcase work that maybe isn't cool yet or might never be cool, but that's part of the point for us." With featured work from 30 artists and architects, including works by Andrew Kovacs, Jennifer Bonner & Volkan Alkanoglu, Weather Projects, and Sophie Lauriault, One-Night Stand LA’s promises to bring a sampling of experiences, new and to the city’s art-design scene.    
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SCI-Arc’s spring show features 16 models from a diverse collection of architects

SCI-Arc’s Spring show, Close-up, curated by Hernan Diaz Alonso and David Ruy, opened in the usually staid SCI-Arc atrium that’s now filled with 16 prototypes designed by practitioners from across the spectrum of the architectural discipline. The prototypes explore the power of magnification in digital and physical expressions of architecture. The exhibition examines the architectural detail through the lens of technology’s impacts on “the traditions of tectonic expression….An often overlooked condition of digital design technologies is the ability to design objects through continuous degrees of magnification. The consequences of this very basic fact are more significant than we may realize. The traditional premise that some architectural ideas only reside at standardized scales of magnification at this point is nostalgic,” explained Alonso, discussing the impetus behind the exhibition. Close-up features work from UNStudio, Neil M. Denari Architects, Gehry Partners, Griffin Enright Architects, Greg Lynn FORM, Atelier Elena Manferdini, Morphosis, Oyler Wu Collaborative, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and Tom Wiscombe Architecture among others. The exhibition remains open through May 29.