Last year we showcased Oyler Wu’s SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, a swooping steel, fabric, and rope construction that floated above the event like a billowing sail. For last week’s graduation the firm added a small addition while making significant improvements. The addition, which sat school directors and special guests, became a stage for diploma presentation. Made of a torqued steel shell fitted with twisting fabric (Wu calls it a three dimensional twist), the addition is no replication: it creates a simpler, more unified complement to the original, which involves a more complex web of fabric and roping. As for the original pavilion, they replaced its (disturbingly) dirty fabric with darker material and re-oriented the whole thing toward the school itself. Next year’s pavilion will be designed by Marcelo Spina. We can’t wait.
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA
Through August 12
The SCI-Arc Media Archive, comprising four decades of lectures, symposia, and events from many of the most creative contemporary architects and thinkers, is scheduled to go online this fall. In anticipation of this resource becoming publicly accessible, the MAK Center (above) presents selected material from the archive curated by architects and architectural historians, each composing a singular argument out of their selections. Focusing on Peter Cook’s record 11 talks, architect Roger Sherman presents “Cook Off,” portraying the architect as a SCI-Arc “doppelganger” and lens through which the school may consider its “alternative” status. Scholar Dr. Paulette Singley offers “Teasers, Ticklers, and Twizzlers,” a look at interdisciplinary performance and architectural research. The architect, historian, and curator Anthony Fontenot presents “City Talk,” reflecting on the evolving dialogue on cities at SCI-Arc with a monitor dedicated to excerpts from each decade. Architect Marcelyn Gow investigates the role of drawing in architectural practice with “Drawn Out,” focusing on its evolution in our era of computational design.
Ball-Nogues Studio: Yevrus 1, Negative Impression
960 East 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA
June 1–July 8
On display at the SCI-Arc Gallery is Los Angeles–based architecture practice Ball-Nogues Studio’s Yevrus 1, Negative Impression, which attempts to call into question the current fashionability of abstracted and digital forms. Through an assemblage of non-architectural objects represented very literally, the project represents a new type of site survey. The objects selected to be part of the structure were picked from the Los Angeles suburban landscape (a pool, above) and become the elements of an installation. The architects used digital scanning technology to make biodegradable paper-pulp castings of 1973 Volkswagen Beetles and speedboats for a lookout tower in the gallery. Yevrus (“survey” spelled backwards) is a new technique pioneered by the firm that rethinks the site survey by utilizing it not as a tool for construction and engineering, but as a methodology of deriving form, creating structures, and realizing meaning.
After winning one of the top prizes at the Solar Decathlon competition, SCI-Arc and Caltech’s CHIP House is returning to Los Angeles for a victory lap. The unique net zero structure—with quilted, vinyl-covered polyester insulation stretched around its angled exterior—will be open to the public at the California Science Center in LA’s Exposition Park starting on Tuesday. It will stay there through the end of May.
For the last several years, SCI-Arc’s Studio 1A has given new students the chance to literally make their mark by producing projects that become permanent fixtures at the school. On Friday, this year’s class revealed a project that started as a piece of clothing, then became a wire model, then became a mockup, and finally ended as a new undulating and faceted canopy and wall. Made of a recycled carbon fiber called Nyloboard, the project’s more than 2,000 pieces were all hand cut and, somehow, none are exactly alike. They’re attached with Gorilla Glue, nails, and screws. “It’s something that exists at the scale of the world, which can take years for an architect,” said Nathan Bishop, who along with Jackilin Hah Bloom and Jenny Wu led the studio.
Ever wonder what LA will look like in 30, 50, or 100 years? Little Tokyo Design Week, which launched last night in downtown Los Angeles, captures a glimpse of the future city through the eyes of innovative designers and companies inspired by technology from Japan. The four-day celebration takes place in one of the country’s few remaining Japan-towns and includes panels, exhibitions, parties, pop-up stores and even pub crawls. It opened last night with a forum from LA architecture school leaders Hitoshi Abe, Qingyan Ma, Ming Fung, and Andrew Zago, an outdoor screening of Hayo Miyazaki’s beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, and a discussion of urban life as a customizable, sustainable existence with Tim Durfee, Ben Hooker, Keiichi Matsuda, Jon Rafman and Sputniko! Basically, this design week is about how to face the future of a more populated globe.
Finally. After 39 years of wandering around Los Angeles and trying to convince its landlord to sell, SCI-Arc today announced that it has bought its building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. The 1,250 foot-long Santa Fe Freight Yard Depot building, a reinforced concrete structure designed by architect Harrison Albright, stretches seemingly forever along Santa Fe Avenue. Students like to bike or skateboard inside it to get to class.
The school moved to the former rail depot 10 years ago after a 2001 renovation by architect Gary Paige. The school’s opening came when building owner Meruelo Maddux Properties filed for bankruptcy—meaning it really needed the money. The school bought the property for $23.1 million. Other homes for the school have included Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica. But now it finally has a real home.
And their edgy, coarse and lively corner of downtown, as SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss has pointed out, is where it’s always wanted to be. “SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to Downtown,” he told AN in a recent interview, adding that the area is a laboratory for architectural and urban development. “We are staying Downtown. Period.”
Why doesn’t landscape architecture in Southern California get the same attention as architecture? That’s one of the questions that will be answered at Friday’s Landscapes for Living conference at SCI-Arc. The event, organized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, will focus on Post War Landscape designs in the region, which have largely stayed under the radar. For instance, who has heard of Ralph Cornell, who designed legendary landscapes like the Torrey Pines preserve near San Diego, Beverly Gardens in Beverly Hills and the Civic Center Mall and Music Center plaza in Downtown LA ? Other subjects will include Ruth Shelhorn, the only female architect to work on the original plans for Disneyland, and designer of the park’s entrance and Main Street; Bridges and Troller, who designed Century City; Lawrence Halprin, better known for his parks in the Pacific Northwest but also active in California; and of course the legendary (but under appreciated) Garret Eckbo.