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A site-specific installation at the SCI-Arc Gallery transforms a musical composition by Ken Ueno into a digitally realized built environment.
A robot, a composer, and an architect walk into a gallery. It could be the start of a corny joke, but instead it’s the captivating formula for Patrick Tighe’s new exhibition at the SCI-Arc Gallery. The composer is Ken Ueno, recipient of the Rome and Berlin Prizes, and the robot belongs to Machineous, the Los Angeles-based fabricator hired to realize Tighe’s architectural representation of Ueno’s music.
After years of trying, it looks like SCI-Arc is finally going to own its building in Downtown LA’s Arts District. According to the school the project should close escrow before this May. According to blogdowntown, the school will pay $23.1 million for the 100,000-square-foot building and its surrounding 4.75 acre lot. The deal had been held up because of property owner Meruelo Maddux’s continuing bankruptcy, but the company just settled with its debtor, Legendary Investors Group, which has pledged to honor the deal. “We don’t want to be renters anymore. SCI-Arc is absolutely committed to downtown,” SCI-Arc director Eric Owen Moss told AN when recently discussing the project. Interesting facts about the building: The quarter-mile-long Santa Fe Train Depot was converted into the school’s campus in 2000. Built in 1907, the depot was designed by Harrison Albright. At 1,250 feet long, if it were upended, it would be as tall as the Empire State Building.
37 first year SCI-Arc students have just finished a mesmerizing new installation in the school’s parking lot called Sway. The project is made of 228 thin bundled steel rods, bolted into the ground and joined via flexible (and wild) wire units above. The vast and tightly-packed array of bendy rods are responsive to subtle changes in wind force (and not-so-subtle pushing by visitors), enabling the structure to move around like trees in a forest, or a collection of organisms. At night they catch the light in changing and surprising ways.
The 1A Studi0—which produces a large installation every year— was led by professors Nathan Bishop, Eric Kahn and Jenny Wu. Bishop accurately called the piece an “encompassing environment.” Which is what makes it so great: the chance to walk right into the art and interact with it.
For you last-minute types, the deadline to register for AN and SCI-Arc’s Clean Tech Corridor Competition is the end of the day tomorrow. The competition asks architects, landscape architects, designers, engineers, urban planners, students and environmental professionals to create an innovative urban vision for Los Angeles’ CleanTech Corridor, a several-mile-long development zone on the eastern edge of downtown LA (which includes a green ideas lab and a Clean Tech Manufacturing Center). Entries should look beyond industrial uses; creating an integrated economic, residential, clean energy, and cultural engine for the city through architectural and urban strategies. That could include not only sustainable architecture and planning, but new energy sources, parks that merge with buildings, new transit schemes, and so on. While registration is due tomorrow, entries are due on September 30. So get a move on!! You can download the brief here.
A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. Read More
Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc’s future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school’s lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon.
“SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere,” he said. Read More
The LA Downtown News and Curbed LA report that SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) is having some serious issues with its current location in LA’s Arts District, and may be considering a move to Hollywood, the Wilshire Corridor, or the Westside. The school rents its massive train-depot-turned-school building from developer Meruelo Maddux, which apparently charges a pretty penny (and recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). Their lease is up in one year. According to Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc’s COO, the school has not yet decided on whether it will renew the lease, and wants a building of its own. “We will be operating in our own self-interest. We haven’t been unhappy down here in the Arts District. We’ve got flexibility in terms of our future and we have optimism about our future, but our future will include owning where we are,” he told the Downtown News. Stay tuned, because we know downtown doesn’t want to lose one the Arts District’s driving forces…
We recently noted the impending demise of SCI-Arc’s original building in Santa Monica, which the school’s founder, Ray Kappe, didn’t consider much of a loss. As he put it, referring to renovations subsequent to SCI-Arc’s departure, the building “had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” We didn’t exactly get what he meant, but then the fine folks at Archinect were kind enough to link to our story, and therein occasional AN contributor Orhan Ayyüce posted some pics from his time at SCI-Arc back in the day, some of which we’ve posted here (click the above link to see the rest). Now we get it, are kinda sorry we missed it, and sorry to see it go. Read More
“I hadn’t even heard about it,” Ray Kappe told us when we called him to find out about an item in Curbed the other day noting that the Santa Monica City Council had overturned a ruling by the Landmarks Commission that would have designated SCI-Arc’s original home as a historical icon worthy of preservation. Kappe, who founded the school in 1972 at a 1950s industrial building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue [map], actually sided with the council in its decision, calling the building “messed up completely.” He said it used to sport “a pretty good 30s modern look. It had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” That’s because at one point the landlord replaced the ribbon windows with generics, among other changes. Read More
PACKING UP CAMP
Now that Donald Fisher’s CAMP project in San Francisco is officially dead, talk is swirling about where the Gap founder’s art collection will go. The whispers have focused on one obvious suspect: SFMOMA, which has already begun planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion that could get even bigger. One rumor has it that the museum is talking to the city about acquiring an adjoining fire station and building a new one elsewhere in return, in order to offer the Fishers their own digs. SFMOMA director Neal Benezra coyly parried questions with the comment: “We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Fishers to find a home for their collection as part of an expanded SFMOMA campus.” Read More
Thanks to some strategic re-scheduling, it appears that this weekend has become LA Design Conference-Palooza. It all started when AIA Los Angeles decided months ago to merge its Mobius conference with the popular Dwell On Design. Both shows will be held at the La Convention Center this weekend (June 25-28). All was well with the world.. But then came more recent news that design entrepeneur Charles Trotter had rescheduled his March design show, CA Boom, for the same weekend, at the former Robinsons Department Store in Beverly Hills! Well then all hell broke loose… Read More
Sorry, this post was accidentally erased last week.
Finally, the public events for AN’s New Infrastructure competition have ended! (there’s one more at the AIA/Mobius Conference in June, but that’s not exactly public..) The final event- also one of the last at GOOD magazine’s space at 6824 Melrose Avenue, which is moving down the street in the coming months (more details to come as they emerge)- included a workshop led by Metro planner James Rojas, in which the audience was asked to build their own transit systems out of found materials like beads, legos, wooden and foam blocks, plastic figures, chess pieces, and much more. The ideas, concocted in just minutes, were stunning in their beauty and creativity, revealing a public desire to make LA’s transit systems more efficient, user-friendly, and most of all fun. Read More