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SCI-ARC IS PLANNING A NEW DIGITAL FABRICATION LAB KNOWN AS THE “MAGIC BOX” (SCI-ARC)
â€œActually, the box isnâ€™t magic, so donâ€™t be disappointed you didnâ€™t get ahold of Merlin the Magician,â€ Eric Owen Moss said at the start of a recent interview. Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), was referring to the schoolâ€™s new digital fabrication lab.
Dubbed the Magic Box, the two-story, prefabricated steel structure will be constructed at the south end of the SCI-Arc building. But Moss didnâ€™t want to focus on the laboratory itself, which was designed by several architects affiliated with SCI-Arc (including Moss’s own firm). Instead, he said, â€œthe game is, whatâ€™s inside is magic. Itâ€™s not so much the object, but what the object contains.”
STUDENTS WILL HAVE ACCESS TO A RANGE OF PROTOTYPING AND FABRICATION TECHNOLOGIES, INCLUDING LASER CUTTING, INSIDE THE MAGIC BOX (SCI-ARC)
The Magic Box will house state-of-the-art tools for digital prototyping and fabrication, including CNC machines and 3D printers. Together with a remade Analog Fabrication Shop and the existing Robotics Lab, the Magic Box will be a key component of the schoolâ€™s new RAD (Robot House, Analog Shop, and Digital Fabrication Lab) Center.
According to Moss, the Center is designed to teach students how to interrogate the technologies and materials they encounter. â€œSCI-Arc is not interested in producing people who can just go into an office and use digital tools,â€ he explained. â€œWeâ€™re interesting in producing students who have a critical and intellectual perspective on this.â€
THE MAGIC BOX WILL JOIN EXISTING FABRICATION LABORATORIES AT SCI-ARC, INCLUDING THE SCHOOL’S ROBOT HOUSE (SCI-ARC)
As an example of the kind of creative discovery he expects will take place inside the Magic Box, Moss cited the schoolâ€™s Robot House, the 1,000-square-foot laboratory comprising a five-robot workroom and a Simulation Lab. â€œRobots are usually used in [a chronological sequence], but we donâ€™t use them that way,â€ Moss said. â€œThe robots evolve: as the program changes, the robots start to do something else.â€
He also pointed to the history of CATIA, visualization software originally marketed to aerospace engineers but now in widespread use among architects. â€œA lot of these [digital] tools have been made by other characters that may have different motives,â€ Moss explained. â€œWe want to make sure that the imaginative motive is introduced as part of the [architectâ€™s] education.â€
In the end, Moss said, the new workspace at SCI-Arc is named the Magic Box to reflect the optimistic spirit in which it is being introduced.Â That storyline will begin next spring, when construction on the Magic Box starts. The 4,000-square-foot space is expected to be ready for students at the opening of the 2014-15 school year.
EXAMPLES OF 3D-PRINTED MATERIALS. THE MAGIC BOX WILL BE STOCKED WITH 3D PRINTERS, CNC MACHINES, AND OTHER DIGITAL TOOLS (SCI-ARC)