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LECTURES: Wed, November 20, 2013

Joan Ockman: An Orchid in the Land of Technology

Wed, November 20, 7pm
W.M. Keck Lecture Hall

Siegfried Kracauer, a cultural theorist and film critic active during the Weimar Republic and then in the United States, was trained as an architect. His theory of the mass ornament is the point of departure in Joan Ockman's reflection on the architectural spectacle.

Joan Ockman is Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. She served as Director of the Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University's GSAPP from 1994 to 2008 and was a faculty member at the school for over two decades. She has also taught at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Cooper Union, Graduate Center of City University of New York, Berlage Institute, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she held an honorary chair in 2007. In 2002 she was a Fellow at New York University’s Center for Advanced Studies.

Ockman's most recent book is Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America (MIT Press, 2012). Her award-winning anthology Architecture Culture 1943–1968 (Rizzoli, 1993) is now in its fifth printing, and will be reissued in a twentieth-anniversary edition next year. Among other titles she has edited are The Pragmatist Imagination: Thinking about Things in the Making (2000), Out of Ground Zero: Case Studies in Urban Reinvention (2002), Architourism: Authentic, Exotic, Escapist, Spectacular (2005), and the six-volume FORuM Books series (2007–9). Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, catalogs, and journals, including ANY, Architect’s Newspaper, Arquitectura Viva, Artforum, Assemblage, Casabella, Design Book Review, Dissent, Harvard Design Magazine, JSAH, Log, and Metropolis.

Ockman began her career in the 1970s at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, where she was an editor of Oppositions journal and responsible for the Oppositions Books series.

Brand New Design Prototyping & Fabrication Lab Coming Soon at SCI-Arc


A rendering of the Magic Box, a cutting-edge, multi-dimensional digital fabrication lab currently being built on the SCI-Arc campus

Next spring, SCI-Arc will break ground on a technologically transformative new digital fabrication space that will ignite the kinds of innovation, entrepreneurship and out-of-the-box thinking that are the hallmark of a SCI-Arc education. Dubbed the Magic Box, the 4,000-square-feet, 2-story digital fabrication lab will be built at the south end of the SCI-Arc building and will connect to the school’s existing Robotics Lab and Analog Fabrication Shop to form the RAD Center—a one-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional facility providing access to several different methods of fabrication and assembly. The Magic Box will house three times as many high-speed laser cutters, 3D scanners and ABS plastic printers as are currently available to students and faculty.

“With the new Magic Box, SCI-Arc enlarges its capacity to produce conceptual and technical magic,” says SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss.

The school is half-way through planning and on schedule to start construction in the beginning of 2014, and it looks like incoming students will walk through the doors of SCI-Arc’s quarter-mile-long building and into the new robotics, analog and digital fabrication space next fall. And what they’ll find will be impressive.

Embracing and integrating the most up-to-date technologies from the moment they become available, the lab will allow students to build, vacuum form or 3D print their models to life using a wide array of materials, from wax to translucents, to plastic, to flexible materials, to metal. These models would then undergo further experimentation with the help of 6-axis robots, which have already been in use at SCI-Arc for more than 2 years.

“By creating the Magic Box, SCI-Arc reinforces its most critical priority to prepare students to work with today’s most revolutionary technologies, in an environment designed for tomorrow’s world,” says SCI-Arc Director of Academic Affairs Ming Fung, who oversees new research initiatives for the school.

SCI-Arc’s new Magic Box is being built for change in a world in which change is constant. Together with the revamped woodshop and existing cutting edge robotics lab, it will provide a one-of-its-kind platform for research, experimentation and prototyping. But most importantly, it is designed to shape-shift as new generations of students make the building their home and new technologies yield new approaches to teaching and learning.


SCI-Arc lectures, discussions, symposia and special events are archived on the new SCI-Arc Media Archive. Click on the link below to visit the site.