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Alumni Receive Award to Develop Digital Tool for Sustainable Urban Design

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected alumni Peter Arnold (M.Arch ‘94) and Hadley Arnold (M.Arch ‘94) of Woodbury University’s Arid Lands Institute as winners of the 2015 Latrobe Prize for their “Drylands Resilience Initiative: Digital Tools for Sustainable Urban Design in Arid and Semi-Arid Urban Centers.” The Latrobe Prize, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession.


ALI case studies explore areas that have extensive contamination, sites that are well suited to infiltration, and sites that are a combination of the two.

The $100,000 award will enable the Arid Lands Institute and its cross-disciplinary partners to further develop and test a proprietary digital design tool, known as “Hazel,” that eventually will enable arid communities anywhere to design and build the infrastructure needed to capture, retain and distribute stormwater runoff. The jury was particularly impressed with the institute's research plan, the working partnerships that are part of the proposal, and the social justice at the center of the research.

As founders and co-directors of the Arid Lands Institute, Peter and Hadley Arnold aim to train designers and citizens to innovate in response to hydrologic variability brought on by climate change. Part of their research, they created a stormwater runoff model based on 30-year precipitation data, assessed soil types and ground surface impermeability, and analyzed zones contaminated with chemicals to pinpoint areas best suited for stormwater infiltration and capture.

Their Drylands Resilience Initiative addresses the critical global issue of securing low-carbon and sustainable urban water supplies within arid urban centers. The proposed technology to be funded by the Latrobe Prize builds on previous public and private sector funded research to maximize low-carbon localized water supply, shape water-smart urban planning, zoning and building policy, as well as develop pilot projects that are scalable and replicable.The resulting digital tool should enable engineers and architects to make more thoughtful decisions on the integration of stormwater capture and reuse in their projects.

Ramiro Diaz-Granados, Matthew Au to Complete Installation at Oregon State University

SCI-Arc design faculty Ramiro Diaz-Granados (B.Arch ’96) of Los Angeles-based Amorphis, in collaboration with alumnus Matthew Au (M.Arch ‘11), are currently at work on an interior intervention for a new building on the campus of Oregon State University.


Afterglow is built out of laser-cut aluminum sheets and anodized with gradient color.

Titled Afterglow, their design is being installed in the university’s new Student Experience Center (SEC), aiming to inject a vibrantly colored set of surfaces that produce an atmospheric effect similar to afterglows—optical phenomena associated with the scattering of light particles during sunset, producing a range of warm rosy hues in the sky.

Their proposal adheres to and takes its cues from the building’s architecture, serving as an eccentric counterpart to the building’s exterior facades. While the exterior of the building is intended to be contextual with the larger campus setting and its neo-classical import, the interior lobby has baroque ambitions. The plan geometry that defines the lobby is comprised of irregular and overlapping shapes based on a composition of arcs. As a result, the building’s interior has no single center, but several multiplied centers which are indexed in radial lines that break down the surfaces into strips, overwhelming the space with color, luminosity, shape and texture.

The main ceiling piece signals a frustration of the space with not terminating in a dome or atrium and is composed of an inverted ridgeline figure surrounding an ovoid plane of mirrored tiles. The tiling pattern is based on the orthographic projection of the hexagonal subdivisions of two intersecting domes.

Designed, fabricated and contracted by Amorphis in collaboration with Au, the project is scheduled to be completed at the end of April.

Alumna Receives AIA│LA 2014 Presidential Honor, International Architecture Award

SCI-Arc alumna Jennifer Marmon (M.Arch ‘01) is one of AIA│LA’s 2014 Presidential Honorees to be honored at the institute’s upcoming Design Awards Ceremony this October. Her design studio, PAR, short for Platform for Architecture + Research, is being recognized as an Emerging Practice pushing the boundaries of design innovation and advancing Los Angeles architecture. As Marmon describes it, “PAR is a platform for mixing keen analysis, formal exploration and pragmatic performance in an effort to realize project potentials.”

Clad in a translucent skin of fritted ETFE and high-performance glazing that encompasses roof, ceiling, wall and terrace, PAR's Taichung Cultural Center is oriented to optimize natural light and frame views of the nearby Taiwan Tower.

One of PAR’s recent projects, the Taichung Cultural Center in Taiwan, was met with critical acclaim, receiving an International Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum. In 2013, the Taichung city government invited architects to put forth their most daring visions for an expansive new cultural center. The tilted loop structure designed by PAR (shown here) sought to integrate the programmed elements of a library and a museum with an outdoor gallery and an open urban plaza. The structure’s form, replete with ramps and stairs that create connections throughout its stacked diagonal orientation, produces a dynamic space meant to attract curious passers-by who drift into the central plaza.

PAR has offices in Los Angeles (shown above) and New York City

Marmon, who founded PAR in Los Angeles after completing her master's degree at SCI-Arc, is currently at work on a hotel in Uruguay, houses in LA and DC, an art gallery in London and several international competitions. She has exhibited her work at the National Building Museum, the European Center for Architecture and the New York Center for Architecture. Since 2010, she serves as an ongoing visiting critic at SCI-Arc and USC. She has also been a guest critic at Harvard GSD and Columbia GSAPP, and a juror for the international WAN Awards competitions. Learn more about PAR at www.p-ar.com.

Alumni Selected for Worldwide Storefront Series

Two projects by SCI-Arc alumnae Laurel Consuelo Broughton (M.Arch ‘06) and Mimi Zeiger (M.arch ‘98) have been selected for the international WorldWide Storefront (WWSF) series organized by the Storefront for Art and Architecture this upcoming fall.


The initiative includes a simultaneous, multi-locus of alternative spaces around the globe, coupled with a digital platform for the expression and exchange of latent desires within contemporary art and architecture practices.

Laurel Broughton’s entry, Gallery Attachment, developed together with Andrew Kovacs, will feature a space designed and constructed under a bridge in Los Angeles. It will serve simultaneously as an architectural object and as a container for a series of events, exhibitions and performances.

Mimi Zeiger’s Host: Natural Histories will be located at The Neutral VDL Research Site in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles. The project explores the multivalent meaning of the word “host”: a talk-show host, a parasitic host body, a host house or city, via an exhibition and series of events.

From September 19 to November 21, 2014 the 10 selected entries located around the world will open simultaneously, offering a two-month program of exhibitions and events. Recordings of the events will be broadcast through the WWSF online platform and presented at the Storefront for Art and Architecture Gallery in the installation WWSf Portal, a collaborative design by Marc Fornes and Jana Winderen.

Read more about WWSF here.

Jones, Siegal Explore Modern Housing at Truck-A-Tecture

SCI-Arc design faculty Wes Jones of Jones, Partners: Architecture and alumna Jennifer Siegal (M.Arch ‘94) of Office of Mobile Design are exhibiting their pre-fab, mobile architecture designs in the Truck-A-Tecture group exhibition hosted June 27-August 23 at the KANEKO gallery space in Omaha, Neb.

The group exhibition showcases designs and full-scale structures by four architecture firms, exploring topics of nomadism, transportation, trucking culture and the nature of “home.”

Jones, Partners: Architecture

Mobile home designs on view at Truck-A-Tecture tackle issues of sustainability and technological advances that have led many to a leaner, efficient lifestyle.

Aeromobile/Office of Mobile Design

Also exhibiting in the show are Mark Mack Architects and Min│Day.

For more about the exhibition, visit www.thekaneko.org.

Trustee, Alumni Win 2014 LABC Architectural Awards

The Emerson College Los Angeles building designed by SCI-Arc founding faculty and trustee Thom Mayne of Morphosis was honored with the Grand Prize in the recently announced 2014 Los Angeles Architectural Awards. More than three dozen of the year’s best architecture and design projects in the Greater Los Angeles area were recognized this year in the 44th annual round of awards hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council.


Emerson’s 100,700-square-foot facility nestled in the heart of Hollywood opened doors to its first group of students in January.

SCI-Arc alumni Michael Folonis (B.Arch ‘78) and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson (B.Arch ’95) also received LABC awards this year.

Folonis’ Santa Monica based practice, Michael Folonis Architects, received a Design Concept Award for the South Bay Family Health Care Clinic.


The South Bay Family Healthcare Clinic conceptual design by Michael Folonis Architects promotes an indoor-outdoor connection, use of natural light and improved patient experience.

Thorsteinsson’s practice, Minarc, received a Beyond L.A. Award for their Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland.


Minarc’s Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel incorporates innovative materials and sustainable practices to allow for a synergy between the built and natural environments.

Learn more about LABC’s 44th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards at www.labusinesscouncil.org.

Barbara Bestor Designs Community-Friendly Project in Echo Park

SCI-Arc alumna Barbara Bestor (M.Arch ‘92), principal of Los Angeles-based Bestor Architecture, has joined forces with eco-conscious local developer LocalConstruct to design and build her current project, The Blackbirds.

Located in the LA neighborhood of Echo Park, The Blackbirds is described by Bestor as a pedestrian-friendly development that introduces "stealth density" to its eclectic neighborhood. Its design is linked to the Dutch "Woonerf" concept—which stands for 'living street'— proposing a communal space around which a "micro-community" can thrive.

A sketch of the Blackbirds development by Bestor Architecture

This small lot, subdivision housing project presented Bestor and her team with the perfect opportunity to explore creative housing solutions on tight lots. Its 15-house units are clustered around an internal living street which promotes neighbor interactions and community participation.

For more details and images of The Blackbirds project, scheduled to be completed this year, visit bestorarchitecture.com.

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 www.poetickinetics.com.

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 >>

Tampa Based Alumnus Takes Design to New Heights

SCI-Arc alumnus Ross-Alan Tisdale (M.Arch ‘06) didn’t always dream of becoming an architect. Fueled by a lifelong passion to be an astronaut, he started college as a cadet in the U.S. Air Force Academy. While on hiatus from the Academy, he went to Yale University, where a series of architectural history classes he took with Prof. Vincent Scully sparked his interest in architecture. It wasn’t long before he decided to switch to architecture as a full-time interest and enroll in the university’s Bachelor of Architecture program.

After graduating from Yale, Tisdale worked in the Albuquerque offices of Antoine Predock, FAIA and spent several years with an architectural and engineering firm in Boston. In 2003, his pursuit of architecture landed him in the Master of Architecture program at SCI-Arc, where his research and explorations focused on architecture that can look both forward and back.

Seagrape House, Anna Maria Island, Fla., Designed by Traction Architecture

He also never gave up on his childhood dream. In turn, he transformed it into reality by marrying his architectural expertise with research into the exploratory field of space architecture—loosely defined as design to support human habitation outside the confines of planet Earth. Tisdale worked at the NASA Ames Research Center designing human habitation for the Moon, and had his work published in the first textbook on space architecture—Out of This World – The New Field of Space Architecture.

In 2012, Tisdale joined his wife and SCI-Arc alumna Jody Beck, AIA (M.Arch ‘06), whom he met while at SCI-Arc, in heading a joint architecture practice, Traction Architecture, founded by Beck a couple of years prior. Based in Tampa, Florida, their architectural office focuses on both residential and commercial designs, and has recently received a Design Honor Award from AIA’s Tampa Bay Chapter.

Traction’s work has been featured by Wall Street Journal and Sarasota Magazine, and their recently completed beachfront Seagrape House (shown here) located on Anna Maria Island, Fla. has been awarded LEED Platinum certification.

Tisdale talks about his work in the field of space architecture and his expertise in designing storm resilient structures in an interview published this month on the AIA website. For more about his practice, visit tractionarchitecture.com.

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