Inside SCI-Arc


LECTURES: Fri, September 27, 2013

John Southern: Paradise Found: Taboos and Tattoos

Faculty Talk
Friday, Sept 27, 1pm
The Steps

Intro by John Enright
Moderated by Todd Gannon

The research of John Southern and his office, Urban Operations, interrogates the sinister contradictions and utopian possibilities present in a world beset by environmental and social decline. Since 9/11, architecture has been distilled into a Supermodernist menu of recombinant formal and material outcomes, while global commerce has simultaneously produced savage anthropomorphic and sociological mutations, resulting in an ephemeral, yet domineering spatial praxis. As systems of capitalist production and consumption in emerging markets expand, and natural environments degrade to the point of collapse, dystopian scenarios once considered taboo crystallize, supplanting natural systems with an artificial ecology of deceptively optimistic spatial programs.

This lecture will briefly explore Urban Operation’s interest in the legacy of the modernist skyscraper and its cultural effects, presenting current research about a sinking island nation’s solution to survive rising sea levels by embracing the philosophies of global capitalism at their most extreme points of implementation and expression.

John Southern is the principal of Urban Operations, an architecture and research firm based in the Los Angeles, California. The office specializes in custom design and conceptual projects that seek to expand critical discourse within the design profession. Through its research division,, Urban Operations explores a wide variety of themes within contemporary culture and produces publications which reveal and critique architecture’s impact on the built environment. The firm’s work has appeared in galleries and publications around the world, including the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Before joining the faculty at SCI-Arc, John held the position of Professor of Practice at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture. His critical essays and research projects have appeared in DOMUS, Loudpaper, MONU, Junkjet, and Form Magazine - publications specializing in the field of urban culture and design.

Book by Joe Day Surveys Architectures for Art and Crime

The United States holds over two million inmates in its prisons and jails, and hosts over two million daily visits to museums—in both, more than a ten-fold increase over the last fifty years. A new book by SCI-Arc trustee and alumnus Joe Day (M.Arch ’94), Corrections and Collections examines how architectures of exhibition and discipline now dominate the American landscape, the ways in which the two typologies complement one another, and why we’ve become a society of more and more extreme freedoms and constraints.

Day shows that the surging demand for both museums and prisons has spurred architects to gamble on new design possibilities and to experiment with their scale and distribution through US cities. He charts cross-pollination between these building types, beginning with an unlikely convergence in Minimalism, and escalating through a wealth of diverse millennial holding spaces.

On Monday, Oct 28, 7pm, SCI-Arc will host a discussion with author Joe Day and Director Eric Owen Moss, addressing Day’s survey of new architectures for the beautiful and the damned. The talk is followed by a book signing reception.

Joe Day is design principal of deegan-day design and teaches at SCI-Arc and Yale School of Architecture. In 2009, he contributed a new foreword to Reyner Banham’s seminal study Los Angeles: Architecture of the Four Ecologies (UC Press). Published by Routledge Press, Corrections and Collections was completed with a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Corrections & Collections is available on Amazon.

Ilaria Mazzoleni Explores Nature-Inspired Architecture in New Book

In her recently published book Architecture Follows Nature—Biometric Principles for Innovative Design (CRC Press, 2013), faculty member Ilaria Mazzoleni seeks to instill a shift in thinking about the application of biological principles to design and architecture. In collaboration with biologist Shauna Price, Mazzoleni focuses on the analysis of how organisms have adapted to different environments and translates the learned principles into the built environment.

To illustrate their methodology, the authors draw inspiration from the diversity of animal coverings, referred to broadly as skin, and apply them to the design of building envelopes through a series of twelve case studies. The 264-page book contains more than 500 full-color illustrations and photographs of the resulting architectural designs.

A book signing reception will be hosted on Monday, Oct 21, 7pm in the SCI-Arc Library.

Architecture Follows Nature is available on Amazon.

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