Inside SCI-Arc


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.

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

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