Inside SCI-Arc


Robot House Student Project on View at Arch Record Innovation Conference in Los Angeles

Architectural Record’s acclaimed Innovation Conference will be hosted for the first time in Los Angeles on May 21 at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. Themed “Breakthrough: Design at the Intersection of Art, Science and Technology,” the event brings together influential designers including SCI-Arc trustee Thom Mayne, visiting faculty Michel Rojkind, architects Jeanne Gang and Thomas Phifer, multimedia artist Doug Aitken, and landscape architect Walter Hood, among others, in panel discussions addressing topics ranging from the integration of contemporary art, technology and design, to the merging of landscape and architecture, to the growing influence of Mexico’s architects.

LA architecture schools SCI-Arc, UCLA and USC have been invited to each exhibit a student project on the garden terrace of the Concert Hall, where attendees will be gathering in-between sessions. Students from the “Squished II: Supercomponents and Metaseams” seminar led by SCI-Arc design faculty Tom Wiscombe, with Robot House coordinator Jake Newsum and robotics researcher Curime Batliner, will exhibit a robot lab project exploring the renewed relevance of the joint and the seam in contemporary composite construction.

Black Seams, Nikita Troufanov, Brennen Huller, Cheng Lu, Squished II Seminar
SCI-Arc Robot House, Spring 2014

Wiscombe’s seminar looked at traditional Japanese wood carpentry for its complex, structural joinery free of hardware, as a model for building with large, lightweight composite super-components. The goal was to produce alternatives to the homogenizing, and often operationally unattainable, smoothness associated with composite tectonics. Robots were used to fit and fasten components together, using multi-step processes involving locking, keying, friction-fitting, and gluing. Ultimately, the class explored the scaling-up of components to massive sizes, and imagined new methods of construction sequencing and delivery that would support this new way of building.

Tickets and more information about the Architectural Record event are available at