Inside SCI-Arc


SCI-Arc Directors, Faculty Address the Holocaust Memorial in Panel Discussion at USC

The 2015 Conney Conference on Jewish Arts, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with the University of Southern California, will feature a stimulating panel discussion addressing the Holocaust memorial, featuring SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss, Graduate Programs Chair Hernan Diaz Alonso, guest panelist Robert Eisenman, and design faculty Russell Thomsen.

Scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 24, 7:30pm at the Doheny Library on the USC campus, the event is free and open to the public. The Doheny Memorial Library is located at 3550 Trousdale Parkway, University Park Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90089.

Thinking the Future of Auschwitz, SCI-Arc Gallery, Fall 2014

Dubbed What is a Holocaust Memorial?, this panel discussion stems from a recent exhibition hosted at SCI-Arc in fall 2014, where Russell Thomsen and his late partner, Eric Khan, presented their own take on the future of Auschwitz through a through-provoking architectural proposal for the future of the Nazi concentration camps in Poland. While Kahn and Thomsen’s proposal was as an attempt to temporarily “blank” the site, rendering it inaccessible and invisible, SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss raised the question of appropriate or inappropriate uses of the memorial, citing Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin.

The HUC-hosted panel aims to advance the discussion began at SCI-Arc last fall.

For more information about the 2015 Conney Conference on Jewish Arts visit

Elena Manferdini Installs Glass Façade for New LA County Medical Center

SCI-Arc design faculty Elena Manferdini kicked-off the New Year with the installation of her designs for the interior lobby and outdoor open space of the Zev Yaroslavsky San Fernando Valley Family Support Center in Van Nuys. Her design inspires a new personal vision for wellness through shifting the viewer’s point of view.

The glass is an example of painterly effects applied to the theatricality of the building façade.

Two years ago, Manferdini was selected by the LA County Arts Commission to design the lobby ceiling, relative indoor and outdoor floors and a glass façade that lead to the entry of the building. In January of this year, she installed the Center’s glass façade, which marks the project’s first phase.

The Zev Yaroslavsky San Fernando Valley Family Support Center is an architectural project designed by HKS that offers a new model of service delivery for the County of Los Angeles. Through the creation of this interdepartmental campus, the Center is designed to provide essential assessments, integrated services and referrals to clients of the Departments of Health Services, Mental Health, Public Social Services, Probation, Child Support and Children and Family Services. The building will be complete in the summer of 2015.

Elena Manferdini graduated from the University of Structural Engineering in Bologna, Italy with a professional degree in engineering and later from University of California Los Angeles with a Master in Architecture. In 2004, she founded Atelier Manferdini, an artist studio that has been recognized internationally for its ability to create new, distinctive and unique characters for public spaces by means of imaginative public art installations. In 2011, she was awarded a prestigious grant from the United States Artists (USA) Foundation for her achievements in architecture and design.

Manferdini currently teaches design studio and visual studies at SCI-Arc, and is the coordinator of the school's graduate thesis program. Read more about her work at

Anna Neimark Exhibits in Graham Foundation Group Show in Chicago

SCI-Arc design studio faculty Anna Neimark and partner Andrew Atwood of Los Angeles-based First Office are exhibiting their work in a Graham Foundation-hosted group show curated by designer Jimenez Lai. Hosted at the foundation’s Chicago headquarters, the exhibition Treatise: Why Write Alone? brings together fourteen young design offices to consider architectural treatise as a site for theoretical inquiry, experimentation and debate.

Shotgun House by First Office is on view at the Graham Foundation through March 28. The firm's publication, Nine Essays, is available for purchase in the SCI-Arc Supply Store.

The project grew out of a recent Graham Foundation grant to Lai, whose interest in discursive practices and non-conformist approaches to architecture led him to ask his peers working in the realm of conceptual architecture: Why write? And, why write alone? In response to these questions, Treatise features more than 200 works, from drawings and models to multi-media installations, by design offices that utilize diverse—and often unexpected—strategies, forms and materials.

The show is complemented by a publication series, also titled Treatise, to be published in March 2015. Rather than a compilation or ongoing series, this set of single-authored treatises takes cues from the publication series Pamphlet Architecture as it originated in the 1970s under the direction of Steven Holl and William Stout. In contrast to Pamphlet Architecture, the Treatise project will publish all fourteen treatises at once in order to investigate the collective and individual stakes that emerge from assembling this temporary alliance. Both the complete set and individual volumes will be available for purchase online and in the Graham Foundation bookshop.

First Office is a Los Angeles–based architecture and design collaborative founded by Andrew Atwood and Anna Neimark. Built projects include a collaboration on the Pinterest office headquarters in San Francisco, a dome stage in Afghanistan, a temporary screening room at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles, and the rehabilitation of a shotgun house in Lexington, Kentucky. Their work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad, including the Beijing Biennale, the Pacific Design Center, the WUHO Gallery, and the SCI-Arc Gallery in Los Angeles, among others.

Exhibiting in Treaties alongside First Office are design firms Bittertang (New York); Bureau Spectacular (Chicago); CAMES/Gibson (Chicago); Design With Company (Chicago); FAKE Industries (New York); Pieterjan Ginckels (Brussels, Belgium); is-office (Chicago); Andrew Kovacs (Los Angeles); Alex Maymind (Los Angeles); Normal Kelley (Chicago and New York); Point Supreme (Athens, Greece); SOFTlab (New York); and Young & Ayata (New York).

The Treatise exhibition will be on display through March 28, with a book launch scheduled on March 18. Read more about the show and publication at

Michael Rotondi Awarded 2014 Richard J. Neutra Medal

Long-time architect and educator Michael Rotondi received the Richard J. Neutra Medal for Professional Excellence from the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona. Awarded annually, the Neutra medal rewards individuals who have dedicated their careers toward researching and developing new environments in which to work, live and play. “Michael Rotondi was selected for his commitment to architectural education, for the concern he shows in his work for society and the environment, and for the inventiveness of his architecture,” says SCI-Arc alumna Sarah Lorenzen (MRD ’04), who serves as associate professor and chair of the Department of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona.

The Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall designed by ROTO Architects

Rotondi’s architectural work has included the Boys and Girls Club of Hollywood, Silverlake Conservatory of Music, Liberty Wildlife center in Phoenix and the Prairie View A&M University School of Architecture. He has also made an impact as an architecture educator for the past 30 years, including at SCI-Arc, where he was a founding student, served as director of graduate studies from 1980 to 1987, and as the school’s director from 1987 to 1997. “Education paired with architecture is RoTo’s way. Michael is a great recipient of prestigious Neutra award, which is given to exceptional architects who take the profession to higher levels of artistry and creative thinking and building,” says SCI-Arc alumnus Orhan Ayyüce (B.Arch ‘81), a senior editor at Archinect.

Past recipients of the Neutra medal have included architectural practitioners, such as Raphael Soriano, Thom Mayne, Ray Kappe and Tadao Ando; landscape architecture practitioners, including Lawrence Halprin, Garrett Eckbo, Roberto Burle-Marx and Francis Dean; as well as individuals who have made notable contributions to environmental design and public policy such as former Vice President Al Gore. The medal has been awarded since 1980.

Spina’s Jujuy Redux Wins American Architecture Award

SCI-Arc design faculty Marcelo Spina and partner Georgina Huljich of Los Angeles-based P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, along with collaborators at MSA, have been selected to receive a 2014 American Architecture Award for their Jujuy Redux, a multi-family housing project in Rosario, Argentina. The prestigious American Architecture Award is a distinguished building award program that honors new and cutting-edge design by US-based architects.

P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S’ Jujuy Redux designs will be showcased in a special exhibition featuring the 65 award-winning buildings at the annual symposium "The City and the World" hosted at the Istanbul Design Biennale in Turkey, November 10-25.

Consisting of thirteen small, shared-floor units and a duplex organized in a cross-ventilated layout, the mid-rise apartment building proposes a subtle delineated mass, operating both at the scale of the entire volume and the scale of each apartment. The exhibition was organized by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, with a goal to help promote American architecture and design nationally and globally.

Read more about the project at

Amit Wolf Presents New Book, Exhibition on Italian Architect Gianni Pettena

On June 5, SCI-Arc faculty Amit Wolf and co-editor Emanuele Piccardo presented their new book, Beyond Environment (ACTAR 2014), centered on the early work of Italian architect Gianni Pettena, in a book launch and discussion hosted in conjunction with the 2014 edition of the Venice Biennale.

Joined by architects Gianni Pettena and Beatriz Colomina, along with architecture critic William Menking of The Architect’s Newspaper, the editors delved into a conversation about their book published as a preview to the eponymous exhibition to be hosted this fall at LACE Gallery in Los Angeles.

Beyond Environment presents the potent interchange between architecture, land art, and performance art that emerged through Pettena's idealized collaboration with American artists Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson in the 1970s. During his first excursions to the United States, Pettena produced a series of "environments" together with Kaprow and Smithson that staged a veritable implosion of fields: counter-events and Happenings, Radical design and Land Art, as well as new technological landscapes and the pastoral Midwest.

Curated by Wolf and Piccardo in collaboration with Woodbury University and the Graham Foundation, the exhibition will combine approximately thirty works by Pettena, Kaprow, Smithson, as well as by Pettena's Florentine milieu, that of Superarchitecture and the Italian 'Radical' groups UFO, Superstudio and 9999.

A design competition is currently underway to select a team to design the three installation pavilions for the LACE Gallery show. For more information about the book and upcoming show, visit

B+U Awarded Graham Foundation Grant for Apertures Installation

SCI-Arc design faculty Herwig Baumgartner and Scott Uriu were awarded one of 68 prestigious individual artist grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in support of their recent Apertures show.

On view in the SCI-Arc Gallery, B+U's Apertures reflected a current architectural discourse of digital ecologies, emphasizing the relationship between the natural world and advances in digital technology, which leads to a new type of interactive, organic buildings. The installation focused on a symbiotic relationship between nature, building morphologies, and material expression.

The pavilion and its apertures were designed to physically engage the visitor with architectural work through sensors and sound feedback loops, creating an immersive spatial environment in which the visitor could experience their own biorhythms.

In their gallery talk with SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss, Baumgartner and Uriu discussed the evolution of their design stressing the thin sheets of thermoplastic polymer resin laminated to CNC-milled polyurethane foam used to make the shell. The two also argued their project was less about maximizing structural efficiency and more about minimizing poché.

Learn more about B+U’s and their Individual Artist Graham grant here.

Manferdini Designs New Installation for LAMAG Exhibit

Design faculty Elena Manferdini, principal of Los Angeles-based Atelier Manferdini, will exhibit in the 2014 COLA Fellowship group exhibition Out of Focus, which opens May 4 at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG). She is one of four winners of the coveted artist grants awarded annually by the City of Los Angeles to recognize work in a wide array of creative fields including design, printing, framing and photography.

In this installation, Manferdini explores two of her favorite themes—tableau vivante and nature morte—creating a 4-panel, mirror-printed photorealistic landscape that depicts insects landing upon an abstract field. These photorealistic insects, captured on screen via three dimensional scanning techniques, offer a moment of verisimilitude in an otherwise blurred composition.

Manferdini’s butterflies and ladybugs land on the curtain not to tell us that they are real, but rather, to render the abstract field of lines and pixels as our new reality.

In addition to leading her design practice, in the past 10 years Manferdini has been teaching architectural design studios and technology seminars for the Graduate and Undergraduate programs at SCI-Arc. Currently she is the Coordinator of the Graduate Thesis Program at SCI-Arc.

More details about the LAMAG exhibition are available here.

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

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.

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