Inside SCI-Arc


About the program
Application procedure

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About the program

Making + Meaning is a five-week summer program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) that introduces the principles of spatial experimentation and design methodologies through the creative processes of architecture.

During this intensive summer program, college students and inspired professionals will meet leading thinkers in design and architecture, create a rich portfolio and engage in open dialogue delving deep into the city of Los Angeles' abundance of experimental architecture.

A platform for individual learning in a collective environment, Making+Meaning is an introduction to the discipline of architecture as engaged by SCI-Arc's design culture and community. The program derives its strength from the diverse backgrounds of its students-from those gauging their interest and curiosity in architecture, to those beginning an architectural degree, to those looking to expand their skills in the tangent fields of education, film, industrial design and the fine arts.

Making+Meaning students survey and challenge the discipline's boundaries through a progression of object-building exercises that sequence drawing, making and constructing. Methodologies range from material experimentation to compositional strategies; from imagination to inhabitation.

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Students are immersed in a studio atmosphere in which the process of creating and learning are inseparable. Material exploration and model-making techniques are introduced early on as means to visualize and test three-dimensional ideas, while two-dimensional representations offer a generative insight into spatial composition.

Throughout these explorations, students learn to balance intuitive responses with the need to clearly present their work to a jury and peers. With a faculty to student ratio of 1:12, the program seeks to provide a thoughtful and engaged guidance of the creative work and its continual development.

The creative curriculum is supported by a series of focused seminars exploring technology and fabrication techniques, architecture history and critical thinking, design methodology and contemporary architectural production. Details and highlights include:

+ Design laboratory

Students are exposed to diverse design methodologies while experimenting with and exploring the properties of different materials. Notions of spatial composition, scale and inhabitation are introduced as week-long assignments and presented in reviews at the end of each week.

+ Visual Studies laboratory

Students explore diverse modes of two-dimensional representation as generative methodologies in architecture. Ranging from gesture to observation, the Visual Studies Laboratory offers a mirror onto spatial investigations disclosing alternative ways of seeing and understanding.

+ Resources

SCI-Arc resources and facilities are available to enrolled Making + Meaning students. Those include computer labs and digital storage, fabrication shop, photography studio, the Kappe Library, as well as SCI-Arc’s Lecture Series and symposiums.

+ Exploring Los Angeles

Weekly guided tours connect students with LA's most innovative architecture, both historic and contemporary, providing a comprehensive survey of architectural ideas and expressions in the built environment.

+ Visiting architects

Each week a principal from a leading Los Angeles architecture firm visits the class for a question and answer session with students. Participating firms include: Eric Owen Moss Architects, Griffin Enright Architects, Hodgetts + Fung, Jones Partners, Michael Maltzan, Morphosis/Thom Mayne and Xefirotarch.

+ Portfolio development

Focused workshops introduce layout design and material formatting compilation strategies. Faculty and teaching assistants are available for advice, critique and counseling on the development of a creative portfolio.

+ Project development

Outside of classes, students develop their projects individually and/or collaboratively. The Making + Meaning studio is open to enrolled students every day, 24 hours a day.

+ Group Exhibition & Final Presentation

At the end of the term, students produce a Group Exhibition open to the public, in which notable Los Angeles architects and jurors critique and contribute to the dialogue in a daylong review session.

+ Certificate of completion

Upon successful completion of the course, students receive a Making + Meaning certificate.

+ Class hours

Making + Meaning meets Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. Field trips are conducted on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

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Alexis Rochas, SCI-Arc faculty member and architect, directs Making + Meaning with other SCI-Arc faculty members and graduate students teaching different aspects. The course includes guest lectures by faculty from throughout SCI-Arc as well as by professionals from outside the school. Topics include history, tectonics and the culture of architecture.

Participating faculty include Herwig Baumgartner, Betty Kassis, Heather Flood, Dora Epstein-Jones, Darin Johnstone, Elena Manferdini, Marcelo Spina, Devyn Weiser and Andrew Zago.

Each week, Making + Meaning invites a principal from a leading Los Angeles architecture firm to visit the class for a question and answer session with students. Past participants include Eric Owen Moss Architects; Griffin Enright Architecture; Hodgetts+Fung; Jones, Partners: Architecture; Michael Maltzan; Morphosis/Thom Mayne; and Xefirotarch/Hernan Diaz Alonso.

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Application procedure

Admissions to Making + Meaning is on a rolling basis until the program begins. Early application is recommended to secure a place in the program.

A $275 enrollment deposit is required upon acceptance. Remaining tuition balances are due three weeks prior to the start of the program.

Interested in enrolling into Making+Meaning-Summer 2015?


Once the online application form and application fee have been submitted to SCI-Arc, all remaining application materials must be submitted electronically to SCI-Arc through SlideRoom.

If you have any questions, please contact our Admissions Office at 213.356.5320 or

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July 13-August 14, 2015

Completed application form
$25 application fee (non-refundable)

Submit through SlideRoom:
One-page statement of interest
Resume/Curriculum Vitae
Samples of visual creative work (minimum two (2) to maximum five (5) pieces
TOEFL/IELTS score (for international students ONLY)
Scholarship Statement (to be considered for scholarship)
Official Academic Transcripts (to be considered for scholarship)

TUITION: $4,500
Other expenses:
Room & Board: not included
Materials (estimate): $200

SCI-Arc Admissions Office 213.356.5320

Alexis Rochas
Program Coordinator

Participating faculty include:

Herwig Baumgartner

Dora Epstein-Jones
Jones: Partners, Architecture

Darin Johnstone
Darin Johnstone Architecture

Betty Kassis

Elena Manferdini
Atelier Manferdini

Marcelo Spina

Devyn Weiser

Andrew Zago
Zago Architecture