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SCI-Arc Gala 2023 Funds Student Scholarships While Honoring Groundbreaking Design

Hernan Diaz Alonso, Phoebe Yee, Helle Søholt, Ma Yansong, Trina Turk, student Gabriela Aravalo Montoya, Byron Merritt.

Hernan Diaz Alonso, Phoebe Yee, Ma Yansong, Helle Søholt, Trina Turk, Byron Merritt, student Gabriela Aravalo Montoya.

On Thursday, October 19, SCI-Arc hosted its annual scholarship fundraising Gala at The Grand in downtown Los Angeles to support scholarships for SCI-Arc students, the next generation of architects and designers. The event celebrated students, faculty, and distinguished honorees, which included Lucas Museum architect Ma Yansong, influential urban planner Helle Sohølt, and fashion designer and eponymous brand founder Trina Turk.
The evening’s net proceeds, totaling more than $270,000, will contribute to the $7.8 million in financial support which SCI-Arc awards annually in scholarships, empowering students with the opportunity to attend the world-renowned institute of architecture.

Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung

Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung.

Christine Y Kim Catherine Opie and Katy Barkan

Christine Y. Kim, Catherine Opie, and Katy Barkan.

Barbara Bestor and the Sklar Brothers.

Barbara Bestor and the Sklar Brothers.

Byron Merritt and Liam Young

Byron Merritt and Liam Young.

Animation by Actual Objects

Animation by Actual Objects.

Actual Objects Case Miller Claire Farin Rick Farin

Actual Objects: Case Miller, Claire Farin, and Rick Farin.

SCI-Arc Director and CEO Hernán Díaz Alonso and event Co-Chairs and Board Members Phoebe Yee and Byron Merritt introduced Gala honorees who accepted their awards for excellence in architecture, urban planning, and fashion design.

Díaz Alonso thanked and expressed gratitude to attendees for celebrating the mission of funding student scholarships at SCI-Arc, “to keep supporting and helping young architects, young students to join us.”

Reflecting the environment of excitement for the occasion as well as the purpose to gather as a community, Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Phoebe Yee shared, “We are so excited to be here… to all of our contributors, our friends who are here this evening at the event, those who couldn't join us here in person: thank you for supporting SCI-Arc student scholarships!”

Suzanne Boda and Guests

Suzanne Boda and Guests.

As the sun set upon the downtown Los Angeles skyline, AI-generated set design projections by Actual Objects immersed guests in a magical atmosphere. Attendees dined on hors d'oeuvres and entrees by Palikao and enjoyed custom themed cocktails. Bestor Architecture’s “Builders Bar“ offered the “Amaza” martini (named in honor of trailblazing African American architect, educator, and artist, Amaza Lee Meredith; MAD’s “Makers Bar” featured a spicy tequila cocktail, “Ma’s MAD Dash,” and Related’s “Dreamers Bar” offered a gin cocktail named “Helle Good.”



Benjamin Ball

Benjamin Ball.

Bruce Heavin Robin Donaldson and Myles Sciotto

Bruce Heavin, Robin Donaldson, and Myles Sciotto.

Jack and Marilyn Lipton

Jack and Marilyn Lipton.

Kate Harvey

Kate Harvey.

Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich

Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich.

Students Marusia Popova and Jessica Skitalinsky

Students Marusia Popova and Jessica Skitalinsky.

Talin Ebrahimi

Talin Ebrahimi.

Student Emine Simsek

Student Emine Simsek.

Comedy duo The Sklar Brothers—best known for their ESPN Classic show, Cheap Seats, as well as appearances on Entourage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Better Call Saul—delivered a hilarious send-up of architects.

The Sklar Brothers onstage

The Sklar Brothers onstage.

Presenting the award to Helle Sohølt for Excellence in Urban Planning, Yee referenced Gehl's mantra of ‘people-first places’ as proof that “prioritizing the public realm is truly the keystone of building community.” Sohølt accepted, with an inspiring call to action: “Making cities for people is more relevant, I would argue, than ever… to enjoy and to [be] more livable and sustainable for the future. Thank you so much for this honor, I am so happy to be here tonight.”

Ma Yansong, described by Díaz Alonso as representing “a whole new breed of innovation and thinking in architecture, from Nanjing to Beijing to Shanghai,” was presented with an award for Excellence in Architecture. “I think SCI-Arc is an engine for young talents,” said Yansong. “After this year's working and joining the architecture family in Los Angeles, I [have found] a lot of friends. I feel very lucky to be in this family.”

Trina Turk expressed her appreciation for the award by saying that “I've been in the fashion business for 40 years. Architecture and architectural preservation has always been an interest, so it's really great to be recognized by SCI-Arc…and for all of the architects out there and the scholarship students, please design beautiful buildings because they are going to be much more enduring than whatever this season's fashion trend is.”

Each year, over 50% of SCI-Arc students receive some type of scholarship support; the goal of the SCI-Arc Gala is to remove financial barriers for students. SCI-Arc is grateful to this year’s Gala’s generous sponsors, listed below, who enable the school’s continued commitment to creating inclusive opportunities for students of all backgrounds to access the institute’s extraordinary educational environment.

Tom Strickler

Tom Strickler.

Thom and Blythe Mayne

Thom and Blythe Mayne.

Students Rita Duan and Gee Jing

Students Rita Duan and Gee Jing.

Student Byron Roberts and Byron Merritt

Student Byron Roberts and Byron Merritt.

Guests enjoying the Sklars

Guests enjoying the Sklar Brothers.

Eric Owen Moss and Guests

Eric Owen Moss and Guests.

Gabriela Arevalo Montoya (B.Arch ‘26) spoke of creativity sparked and dreams fulfilled throughout her studies at SCI-Arc, first in the Design Immersion Days summer program and later as an undergraduate student: “Construction of buildings and floor plans and material pallets began to spark an interest in me,” she explained. “Each day at SCI-Arc was exciting and thrilling, and each day I would become more and more fascinated with the possibilities of design. I had never really been in a space like SCI-Arc before, that not only celebrates creativity, but encourages it, that is filled with passionate creators, and that really inspires you to express yourself, your personality, to its full extent.”

“As a first-generation immigrant,” she continued, “attending a higher education institute always seemed distant. Possibilities were limited to only exist in my dreams, and SCI-Arc helped those dreams become a reality. Not only was the financial burden lifted off of my shoulders through the help of scholarships, but the possibility to expand those dreams and continue to create new ones was given to me—through the constant support in the form of lectures, classroom conversations, and the formation of personal relationships.”

She remembered, “On the last day of DID, one of my classmates and I made a promise to each other: that we would come back and make our undergraduate career here at SCI-Arc; [a place] that had impacted us in such a way we were convinced we were going to reunite on that campus, become architects, and be a part of helping to shape the future.”

MAD Architecture

MAD Architecture.

SCI-Arc Gala Sponsors: Related, Lise Strickler + Mark Gallogly, Tom Strickler, Bestor Architecture, Suzanne Boda + George Grindahl, Clark Construction, Hernán Díaz Alonso + Florencia Pita, Thornton Tomasetti, Griffin Enright Architects, Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown, mad Architects, Thom + Blythe Mayne, The Max Collaborative + Ratner Family, Byron + Kerstin Merritt, Eric Owen Moss Architects, Jerry Neuman, Ellen + Dan Strickler, STUN, Actual Objects, Bernstein, Mary Blodgett + Carlton Calvin, Roy + Janet Choi, CO Architects, Tim Disney, Jennifer + William Fain, Foster + Partners, Hsinming Fung + Craig Hodgetts, Hathaway Dinwiddie, HKS Architects, SCAAA, Abby Sher, Relativity Architects, Aviva Carmy, Jack London Freedman, Sue + Tom Gosney, Marcelyn Gow + William Mohline, David Hertz FAIA, Nerin Kadribegovic FAIA + Coomy Kadribegovic, KGM Architectural Lighting, Jack P. Lipton (Burke, Williams, & Sorensen, LLP), Bruce Loewenthal, Hassan Majd / HM DG Inc., Little, Elena Manferdini + Fabio Zangoli, RIOS, Shubin Donaldson, Silverlake Wine, Marcelo Spina + Georgina Huljich, Murray Company, Ahmad Tahir (Tutor Perini Corporation), US Bank, Richard Lee Walker Jr., and The Trinity Family Foundation - Hill Washburne

Visit page to view the complete sponsor list with level divisions.