Inside SCI-Arc

Message from the Director

Hernan Diaz Alonso
SCI-Arc Director

SCI-Arc is where architects become mad scientists. It is where art, science, and industry converge and new futures unfold. At SCI-Arc, we forecast the migrations of culture. We stare down complex technologies and command them to do our bidding. We are agile and street smart. Where others drown in the complex flows of urban life, we thrive and choreograph its movements. We are prophets of beauty, broadcasters of ideas, and tellers of stories. We are builders, leaders, and dreamers. Alchemy is our craft—we turn things into gold.

It is a great time to be at SCI-Arc. In fact, it has never been a better time to be here. As it rapidly approaches the half century mark in its history, you will find a SCI-Arc that has become a mature, vital, and innovative institution operating on an international stage. As successful as it has become however, we remain restless. Where others might choose to relax, we choose to accelerate.

SCI-Arc is ever expanding and permanently under construction. This has been true since we embarked on our project in 1972 in Santa Monica. In the global economy today, design matters like never before, and with the core strengths that we have carefully built, we continue to astonish the world by showing it all the different ways in which design can change it. As we have always done, we keep our fingers on the pulse of the world but always we stay a step ahead. SCI-Arc is an institute and not a university. This is one of the many unique strengths of SCI-Arc. We are not constrained by stubborn bureaucracies, and we are not the preservationists of traditional forms of knowledge. With this agility, we continue to rewrite the rules of research and how our faculty and students engage the world.

As the world accelerates in ways that are beautiful and strange, this is an enormously exciting time for architecture and an important moment to claim a positive, progressive, and imaginative agenda. As exciting as the contemporary situation is, the noise of the world can be deafening and disorienting. It can be difficult to see and understand where the true opportunities are. We’ll show you. In the constant chatter of cable channels and social media feeds, new heroes and villains are identified every minute of the day. We’ll show you how to cut through the chatter by taking strong positions as leaders in the field. We’ll show you the necessity of conjuring vivid images of what the world might become. We’ll show you how we choose our own heroes.

The century ahead will introduce many challenges that we cannot imagine today. Yet as architects, we will always have to meet the challenges as soon as they arrive. Because of this, SCI-Arc is a space of action. We’re not here to have polite conversations. At SCI-Arc, we intensely model our problems and prototype our responses. We engage the world in critical debate with the full force of our intellect and talent, demonstrating the persistent relevance and power of architecture.

As we accelerate into the coming years, SCI-Arc will debate the ethics of architecture. It is not enough to just focus on what we can do to meet our challenges. We also need to consider what we should do. In the coming years, the ethical questions of architecture will be poignant for an institute so dedicated to innovation. But this will be the place where humanism and technology will collide and connect in a very new way.

At SCI-Arc, we will continue to speculate and keep taking risks in order to remake the real. Nothing defines the real like architecture does. And because of this, architecture needs to have an understanding of its own uncertainty. It is in this uncertainty that architecture remains a supreme act of optimism and exuberance. In this spirit, I invite you to come help us to build the unbuildable and think the unthinkable. Come with us to ponder the possibilities of the impossible.