Inside SCI-Arc


The Coachella Astronaut: Super-Scale in the Southland

The musical performances at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio this spring were not the only experiences that were larger than life to its 90,000 daily visitors. The art collective Poetic Kinetics, which includes SCI-Arc alum Nick Kinney (M.Arch 2 '10) as well as Kristy Velasco (B.Arch '13) and Richard Nam ('11), was selected again to design an installation for the vast festival grounds, known for its creative and often iconic large-scale projects and sculptures. Last year, Poetic Kinetics erected a 30-foot snail, which slid between festivalgoers during the two-weekend event.

This year, Kinney was the lead designer for Escape Velocity, a giant 60 foot tall interactive and animatronic astronaut which made its way around the festival. Along with Patrick Shearn, president at Poetic Kinetics, Kinney and the team worked tirelessly for months to turn their idea into an impressive reality. In describing the process, Kinney writes, “…I had had experience fabricating complex objects at SCI-Arc, [and] the Astronaut was no different.” The process revolved around 3D modeling the Astronaut to work within the dimensions of a lift that would act as its structural skeleton and be disguised to transport it around Coachella.

The massive feat was pulled off in a symphony of moving parts, from finalizing detailed drawings, to rigging trusses, to stitching together the fabric of the moving space traveler.

The Astronaut’s visor even allowed festivalgoers to interact with the project by displaying their images on its LED screen. In an age of social media, the Coachella Astronaut quickly gained a following and became a consistent backdrop to countless photos and videos posted online. Even Big Boi, member of renowned hip hop duo Outkast, posted an image of Escape Velocity with the caption "1.5hrs to liftoff" before their hugely anticipated headlining performance.

Learn more about Poetic Kinetics at

STEREOBOT Connects its Signature Joints for Coachella’s #Lightweaver

SCI-Arc design faculty Alexis Rochas, principal of Los Angeles based Stereobot, was hard at work this spring completing his new #Lightweaver art installation for the 2014 edition of the Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival.

Described by Rochas as “the next generation of fusion between architectural study, interactive multimedia and structural systems,” #Lightweaver functioned as a 24-hour kinetic sculpture, interplaying natural and artificial light against a curvilinear knotted frame. It towered 45-feet-high above the site of the festival, stretching 75 feet in diameter. During the day, its bold coloration was contrasted by complex shadow lines wrapping the structure and silhouetting intricate shade patterns on the ground. At night, it turned into a spatial canvas brought to life by light and a sound score providing a multimedia experience that challenged the comprehension of temporal and spatial dimensions.

Moving beyond temporary pavilions, Rochas’ ambitious plans include incorporating Stereobot’s signature structural joint into a system that designers and engineers alike can make use of in building complex installations and structures. Earlier this year, he enlisted Andreas Froech, formerly of Machineous, to join his team as Chief of Operations, adding his solid expertise in robotic fabrication and skin systems to the mix. What brought the two together was a shared interest in the design, execution and fabrication of world class structures, coupled with a desire to advance space frame technology into the 21st century. With Coachella coming to an end, Rochas and his team are just a short break away from starting work on their next big project, a large-scale installation for the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Learn more about Stereobot at

SCI-Arc to Host 2014 Regional Session for Mayors’ Institute on City Design

Following a nationwide selection process, SCI-Arc was announced as a regional partner and host of one of three regional sessions presented this year by the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD). The school will organize a two-day design workshop where eight mayors from the West region will convene in a closed-door session with a team of interdisciplinary design professionals to discuss design and development issues that each participating city is currently facing.

The invited mayors will represent a diversity of cities and bring a wide variety of design issues to the table. The resource team, led by SCI-Arc faculty David Bergman and Heather Flood, will include members ranging from architects and planners to public policy specialists, developers, preservationists, lawyers, landscape architects, transportation planners, and housing experts, as well as practicing professionals and distinguished academics. Each mayor will present a design issue from his or her city to be analyzed by the other mayors and the design professionals, who will then propose design solutions to help solve the problem.

A leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design is designed to foster an understanding of and appreciation for the role of design in urban centers, and the importance of mayors as advocates for good design. Regional sessions—hosted in the South, Northeast, and West—are geared towards mid-to-small-sized cities, the institute format encouraging a high degree of participation and exchange, sparking lively debate, opening new perspectives, and leading to creative proposals for how contemporary civic design can help create more vibrant and livable cities.

The other two MICD regional partners selected this year are Syracuse University School of Architecture and the Florida Center for Community Design and Research (FCCDR) at the University of South Florida.

More info about MICD is available at

Anna Neimark Discusses Kremlin Form at ACSA Annual Conference

SCI-Arc design faculty Anna Neimark will present a paper at the 102nd ACSA Annual Meeting held April 10-12th in Miami Beach, Fla.

Titled Kremlin Form, Neimark's presentation will discuss work done in a visual studies seminar under the same name offered at SCI-Arc in fall 2012.

The problem Neimark posed to her class was the construction of a unifying drawing format for representing the site of the Moscow Kremlin through purely formal means. The resulting axonometric drawings were central to the seminar, offering a way to represent complex form in a singular unifying format.

Students considered different types of isometric construction techniques, concentrating on the vertical axonometric projection that conflates the plan and elevation into one compositional plane. They took their inspiration from John Hejduk’s representational strategies of the Seven Texas Houses that utilize the nine-square grid, the Diamond Houses that rotate the grid 45 degrees, and the Wall Houses that crop and extrude those rotated objects.

Neimark’s ASCA presentation is scheduled April 10, 2pm. Click here for more info about the ACSA event.

2x8 Exhibition of Student Work Debuts April 11 at A+D Museum

SCI-Arc undergraduate students Eduardo Bellosta (B.Arch ‘15) and Ryan McGriff (B.Arch ‘15), and graduate students Nan Yen Chen (M.Arch 2 ‘13) and Hao Wu (M.Arch 2 ‘13), were selected to exhibit their work in the 2014 edition of 2x8, a highly anticipated annual exhibition of student work hosted by AIA Los Angeles.

Themed 2x8: Evolved, the show opens April 11, 6pm at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles, and will include projects by students from SCI-Arc, Art Center College of Design, California College of the Arts, USC and UCLA, among other schools.

The New Painterly's dots and stripes blend to confuse the actual shape of the geometry

The New Painterly, a graduate project developed by Chen and Wu in the studio led by design faculty Elena Manferdini, engages painterly effect techniques of Chiaroscuro and Tenebrism into architectural space. The project explores various ways texture and fake shadows can be used to challenge the perception of a building’s volume, geometry and openings. The program of the building is a Performance Arts Center located in the theatre district of Los Angeles near Disney Concert Hall. It contains one large hall and one small one, the public being “sandwiched” between the building’s interior and exterior skins. The outside of the building is colored with dots and stripes using the technique of planar mapping, projecting dots on the opposite surface, at times stretching the dots to stripes on the other two surfaces. Fake shadows are also used around the opening in order to blur the distinction between interior and exterior to correspond to public areas.

Bellosta and McGriff's design proposal for a new Emerging Art Museum for the city of San Francisco, takes into account the environmental systems affecting the aspect and performance of the museum. The two developed of a per formative envelope that takes advantage of the exterior and interior qualities of the museum. The envelope addresses environmental conditions through a hyper articulated skin allowing air, light and water to add productive efficiencies throughout the year.

AIA│LA will be announcing the recipients of their 2014 AOC Student Scholarships at 2x8’s opening reception on April 11.

For more details about the event, visit

Layer LA Alumnae Unveil New WeHo Installation

Alumnae Emily White (M.Arch 2 ‘06) and Lisa Little (M.Arch ‘06), co-principals of Layer LA, will present their installation, the Three Horned Beast, at Plummer Park in West Hollywood on Saturday, March 15. The powder-coated aluminum structure will be unveiled during a ceremony hosted from 10am to noon by WeHo’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Three Horned Beast installation at Plummer Park in West Hollywood

White holds an M.Arch degree from SCI-Arc and a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College. She has lectured and published on topics ranging from manufactured islands to the history of code in fibrous architecture. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries. She has taught design studios at the University of Southern California, the University of California at Berkeley and Woodbury University.

Little holds an M.Arch from SCI-Arc and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Little worked as an associate at Patrick Tighe Architecture for three years, and prior to that, she was a designer in the office of Pugh + Scarpa Architects. At these firms she worked on retail, affordable housing, and single-family residential and commercial projects. Previously, she was the director of the Flame and Inferno software development team at software developer Discreet Logic and a hardware design engineer at Abekas Video Systems, developing hardware systems for film and television post production.

Read more about the event >>

Wilshire Blvd. Field Study by Urban Operations Featured in Archizines Exhibit

SCI-Arc design faculty John Southern’s critical field survey, Wilshire Star Maps, is part of the Archizines exhibition on view at the University of Hong Kong/Shanghai Study Centre through March 9th, 2014. The two-part, limited-run publication produced by Southern and his LA-based office, Urban Operations, presents the latent formal and programmatic potential of the otherwise unnoticed skyscrapers along Wilshire Boulevard.

Often described as L.A.'s main street, Wilshire represents a cross-section of both the cultural and economic components in the city, with Korean puppy-mills sharing floor space with high-priced Hollywood attorneys, many of whom are ensconced within the same nondescript office towers that make Wilshire easily identifiable from above. While Wilshire may be a flimsy stand-in for L.A.'s missing urban skyline, it represents a fertile breeding ground for future zoning mutations which will no doubt manifest themselves as Los Angeles densifies.

Taking this into account, the Urban Operations-produced Star Maps, much like those used in the tourist industry to find the homes of Hollywood film stars, present a pliable fiction that exists in real time, offering up the potential for dreams to spring from an overtly banal reality which unfolds along Wilshire's 17-mile traverse from Downtown to the Pacific.

Both editions of the Wilshire Star Maps have been archived at the UCLA Fine Arts Library and the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The critically acclaimed touring exhibition Archizines celebrates the resurgence of alternative and independent architectural publishing around the world. Curated by Elias Redstone and initiated in collaboration with the Architectural Association, Archizines now features 100 architecture magazines, fanzines and journals from over 20 countries that provide an alternative to the established architectural press. Edited by architects, artists and students, these publications provide new platforms for commentary, criticism and research into the spaces we inhabit and the practice of architecture.

More about John Southern and Urban Operations at

Zellner Recruited to Head AECOM SoCal Design Office

Long time SCI-Arc faculty Peter Zellner has been recruited by design behemoth AECOM to head the firm’s Southern California design office. Zellner, currently in charge of SCI-Arc’s Future Initiatives post-professional program, will continue to teach at SCI-Arc as he assumes his new role with AECOM.

For the past 15 years, Zellner has been heading his own award winning architectural design, planning and research practice, ZELLNERPLUS, out of Venice, California. Dubbed a “maverick architect of galleries,” Zellner has designed public and private art galleries, residences, institutional facilities and corporate spaces in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Among recent projects, his acclaimed Matthew Marks Los Angeles Gallery, opened its doors in 2012.

Zellner holds a Master in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he participated in the Harvard Project on the City led by Rem Koolhaas. He received a Bachelor of Architecture with First Class Honors from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, where he also taught between 1994 and 1997. He has also held Visiting Professorships in Architecture at UC Berkeley, FIU, University of Southern California, L’Ecole Speciale d’Architecture, and the University of Innsbruck.

Bryony Roberts Re-Imagines Downtown Houston for ArCH

A new exhibition, Lobby Urbanism, curated by SCI-Arc design faculty Bryony Roberts, with Maia Simon and Sophie Jonson, opens tonight at the Architecture Center, Houston (ArCH) with a panel discussion followed by reception.

Bryony Roberts curates Lobby Urbanism exhibition at Architecture Center, Houston (ArCH)

Roberts' show examines how tower lobbies function as interiorized public spaces, connecting surface streets, underground tunnels, and interior commercial spaces. She focuses on four Houston case studies that have the potential to activate both interior and exterior public space: One Allen Center, 1000 Main, Wells Fargo Plaza, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The exhibit features architectural drawings and models of the overall network of tunnels and lobbies, as well as drawings of proposed design interventions.

The show opens with a panel discussion tonight, featuring architects, developers, planners, and community development organizers who will discuss the potential for architecture to create more accessible public space in the Houston downtown area. Bryony Roberts will present ideas behind the exhibition, Kristopher Stuart from Gensler and Joel Ambre from Skanska will discuss the new Skanska tower downtown, Douglas Oliver from Morris Architects will describe the new Marriot Marquis Convention Center Hotel, and Albert Pope of Rice University and Susan Rogers of the Community Design Resource Center will offer their responses.

Read more about the show at

Rotondi & Greiman Curate, Design A+D Exhibition

SCI-Arc longtime design faculty and alumnus Michael Rotondi (B.Arch ‘73), together with former faculty April Greiman, designed the space for the Armin Hofmann: Farbe/Color exhibition currently on view at the A+D Museum.

Curated by Greiman, the exhibition showcases one of the legendary Swiss graphic designer and educator’s portfolios, as well as 16 studies of his prints. The show represents Hoffmann’s work in the built environment as physical, color interventions into the museum itself.

Farbe/Color is on view through January 19th. More about the exhibition, including opening times, at

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