Inside SCI-Arc


Tom Wiscombe Completes Schematic Design of DTLA Museum

SCI-Arc design faculty Tom Wiscombe has recently completed his schematic design for the Old Bank District Museum (OBDM), commissioned by SCI-Arc trustee Tom Gilmore. Wiscombe, who heads the LA-based practice Tom Wiscombe Architecture, presented his designs to members of the LA development and arts community in late February.

On the roof of the Bankhouse Garage is a 35,000 SF. Sculpture Garden with a Café and Amphitheater, creating a new ground in the city.

The OBDM is a contemporary art and design museum located in the heart of the Old Bank District of Downtown Los Angeles. The project is part adaptive reuse and part new construction, capitalizing on the tension between historical and contemporary architecture.

Located beneath, inside of, and on top of the Farmer’s & Merchant’s Bank, the Hellman Building, and the Bankhouse Garage at 4th and Main Street, the Museum is a three dimensional space that weaves through these buildings, inhabiting their hidden or forgotten spaces. It is an unorthodox museum form, in the sense that it withdraws from iconicity and creates a world within a world.

A sequence of discrete objects draws visitors through the space. Objects penetrate through floors, peek over rooftops, and inhabit dark interior voids.

The main 45,000 SF. exhibition space is located in basement and sub-basement spaces that include turn-of-the-century bank vaults that become part of the ensemble.

Unlike generalizing forms of coherence we have become familiar with in this late period of digital architecture, such as smoothness and continuity, this project is based on a new, non-literal form of coherence produced by the uniqueness of specific objects and the vicarious relations between them.

Wiscombe currently teaches design studio and applied studies at SCI-Arc, and is the coordinator of the school's applied studies curriculum. Read more about his work at

SCI-Arc Alumni, Faculty and Trustees Honored with 2014 AIA LA Awards

The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects this year is recognized several SCI-Arc faculty, alumni and trustees with prominent awards conferred at the institute’s annual gala in October. Hosted at the ACE Hotel on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, the ceremony incorporated local design and architecture journalists, academic and civic leaders as well as community movers and shakers.

SCI-Arc design faculty Tom Wiscombe, along with alumni Jeff Allsbrook (M.Arch ‘95) and Yianna Bouyioukou (B.Arch 01), crossed the stage to receive the institute’s prestigious 2014 Next LA Awards for unbuilt work. Wiscombe was recognized for his design of the Kinmen Passenger Service Center in Taiwan. Allsbrook and partner Sylvia Kuhle were recognized for their design of the garden-wrapped Salford Meadows Bridge, while Bouyioukou received an award for her Innovative Bioclimatic European School Complex.

Tom Wiscombe’s proposal for the Kinmen Passenger Service Center, Taiwan

Built work such as the Pico House designed by alumna Angela Brooks (M.Arch ‘91) and partner Lawrence Scarpa of Brooks+Scarpa received a 2014 AIA LA Design Awards. Additional alumni recognized with AIA LA Design Awards include Christof Jantzen (M.Arch ‘89) of Studio Jantzen for the City of Santa Monica Parking Structure #6, Miriam Mulder (M.Arch ‘83) of the City of Santa Monica for the Tongva Park + Ken Gensler Square developed together with James Corner Field Operations and Frederick Fischer & Partners; and Kevin Wronske (B.Arch ‘02) for his design of the Buzz Court apartment complex in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Alumna Jennifer Marmon (M.Arch ‘01) of Platform for Architecture + Research received AIA LA’s coveted Emerging Practice Award.

AIA LA’s 25-Year Award in 2014 went to SCI-Arc trustee Thom Mayne and longtime faculty and honorary trustee Michael Rotondi. Previous 25-year award recipients from SCI-Arc included Director Eric Owen Moss and Frank Gehry.

For a full list of awards and photos of the work, visit the AIA|LA website.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Speaks at SCI-Arc Graduation Ceremony

SCI-Arc’s annual Graduate Thesis Weekend & Graduation Ceremony took place on September 5-7, 2014 on the SCI-Arc campus in downtown Los Angeles, under the shade of League of Shadows, the graduation pavilion designed and built by SCI-Arc faculty Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, with the help of a transformative grant from ArtPlace.

This public three-day event had students presenting their final projects to critics from all over the world, and culminated with an all-school commencement ceremony for both undergrads and grads. Guest critics this year included Aaron Betsky, Michael Bell, Benjamin Bratton, Tomas Daniell, Winka Dubbeldam, Greg Lynn, Jason Payne, Brian Price, Bob Somol, Michael Speaks, Brett Steele and Catherine Veikos.

The graduation ceremony welcomed more than 1,000 guests who came to celebrate more than 160 graduates and undergraduates receiving their degrees. A highlight this year was the commencement speech delivered by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who started his address with thanking SCI-Arc for playing a central part in revitalizing the Los Angeles Arts District. “SCI-Arc itself was the creation of those who would not and could not accept the world as what it was in architecture and design. They wanted a new freedom and a radical independence, and it helped move the profession forward before it was ready to do so. Not that ratings matter that much because they’re so subjective, but if you look at the rapid ascension of now how the profession sees SCI-Arc, you’ve seen that they have caught up to you, just as the city has come back to this location. As the world has moved toward you, and this approach, as you sit squarely now at the center of the profession, admired, praised, and needed by the builders of today, take that responsibility and move it forward.”

Director Eric Owen Moss followed with an announcement of the merit awards for best undergraduate and graduate thesis, and the SCI-Arc Gehry Prize recognizing outstanding graduate thesis work. The 2014 Gehry Prize was awarded to three graduate students: Hannah Goodale Pavlovich (M.Arch 1) for Puzzling, coordinated by Eric Owen Moss; Jeffrey Halstead (M.Arch 2) for Glass House, coordinated by Hernan Diaz Alonso; and Mustafa Kustur (M.Arch 2) for I Am out of Focus, coordinated by Elena Manferdini.

SCI-Arc trustees, directors and faculty joined commencement speaker Eric Garcetti on stage through the entire duration of the ceremony

Graduate students honored with Merit Awards include Julian Rui Huang (M.Arch 1) for Visual Occlusion Pop, coordinated by Florencia Pita; Morgan Wright Garrard (M.Arch 1) for 10,000 Year Architecture, coordinated by Wes Jones; Han-Yuan Chang (M.Arch 1) for 9 Arrowians -> Monuments to Le Grand Paris, coordinated by Anna Neimark; Nan-Yen Chen (M.Arch 2) for Hoarding Interiority, coordinated by Elena Manferdini; Sofya Lapina (M.Arch 1) for Aspects of Legibility, coordinated by Marcelyn Gow; Garrett T. Santo (M.Arch 1) for Conditions of Disfigurement, coordinated by Hernan Diaz Alonso; Daiki Tsutsumi (M.Arch 2) for Semordnilap, coordinated by Andrew Zago; and Jordan Squires (M.Arch 1) for Assumptions, coordinated by Peter Zellner and Joe Day.

Darin Johnstone Showcases Art Center South Campus Drawings in New Exhibition, Drawn Out/Light Mass

A drawing exhibition and installation at the Art Center College of Design celebrates the coming opening of the school’s newly renovated South Campus building with an installation by SCI-Arc design faculty Darin Johnstone, the architect in charge of the six-month renovation and expansion project. The new building provides new space for the school’s Fine Arts and Illustration departments, among other state-of-the-art facilities. Classes have been held there since project completion in January. The official building opening reception scheduled June 19, starting 6:30pm, will feature tours of both the exhibition and the new building.

Dubbed Drawn Out/Light Mass, the installation will be on view at Art Center’s Atrium Galleries at 870 Raymond Street in Pasadena through August 15.

The installation describes the newest addition to the Art Center campus through architectural drawings, extending the building design with a full-scale architectural installation.

An architect and educator with twenty years of experience in the field of architecture and more than a decade spent educating young architects, Johnstone founded Los Angeles-based Darin Johnstone Architecture in 2004. His work engages architecture as an overarching discipline, tackling a wide range of design challenges, including architecture, urban planning, landscape design, interior design, furniture design, and graphic design. Another recent project by Johnstone is the redesign of EightyTwo, a popular arcade bar located in downtown LA’s Arts District.

At SCI-Arc, Johnstone teaches both design studio and visual studies seminars. He also coordinates Design Immersion Days, the school’s annual summer program for high school students, now in its fourth year. Starting fall 2014, Johnstone will spearhead a new partnership between SCI-Arc, the County of Los Angeles and Habitat for Humanity to help design and build affordable and sustainable homes in Los Angeles County.

For more information about Darin Johnstone Architecture, visit

Design Faculty Erick Carcamo Leads Advanced Architectural Design Workshops in Greece, Austria

SCI-Arc design faculty Erick Carcamo and partner Nefeli Chatzimina of X|Atelier are at work this summer organizing three international intensive workshops of advanced architectural design. Themed Functionless, X|A’s 2014 summer workshops will be organized by the two principals in Athens, Greece, as well as in Innsbruck, Austria.

The first two workshops will be held in Athens during June 30-July 11 and July 14-July 25 respectively, being organized under the auspices of the Hellenic Institute of Architecture and the Athens School of Fine Arts. The third workshop will be hosted at the University of Innsbruck from July 28-August 7. Participants will attend computation design workshops, academic lectures, final reviews and and a final exhibition at Benaki Museum, and at the University of Innsbruck respectively.

As part of an ongoing academic research, X|A workshops provoke participants to contemporary discussions of formal exploration in Architecture and Art. Through technical attainment of design and digital production, the X|A workshops give students the opportunity to challenge new design territories, with a goal to explore innovative, potential architectural expressions of the current discourse around form through computational tools such as Autodesk and MAYA.

Founded in 2007, X|Atelier is an architectural practice based in the use of multi-layered experimental techniques and production processes. Both principals hold a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and have graduated from SCI-Arc and N.T.U. Athens respectively. Their teaching expertise extends to SCI-Arc, University of Southern California, Columbia University, Yale SOA, UPenn, Pratt Institute, University of Kentucky, Die Angewandte, N.T.U. Athens and LTH in Sweden. X|A’s work has been internationally published and exhibited at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, London, Lexington and Barcelona. Their working experience is held in the offices of Bernard Tschumi Architects in New York, CoopHimmelb(l)au in Vienna, Asymptote NYC and Xefirotarch LA.

For more information, visit

SCI-Arc Robot House Demo on View at Rob│Arch 2014

As more and more architecture schools around the world are “arming” themselves with robots, the 2014 edition of Rob│Arch, hosted by the Association for Robots in Architecture between May 14-18th at the University of Michigan, provided robotics instructors with an open platform for introducing their latest projects.

The SCI-Arc Robot House team's demo of a live updating program involved two Stäubli TX60L industrial robots which were set up in the faculty research space at University of Michigan through the entire duration of the conference. Designed and programmed by SCI-Arc Robot House coordinator Jake Newsum, robotics researcher Curime Batliner (ESTm ‘11) and graduate student Nikita Troufanov (ESTm ‘14), the demo used Grasshopper to program and manipulate the two robots.

Visitors were invited to interact with the robots and modify their path in real time, while the general public also had an opportunity to observe the robots in action during the conference’s closing ceremony on Sunday, May 18.

Also at the event, Newsum in collaboration with Ammar Kalo of the University of Michigan presented their research into robotic incremental sheet metal forming as a method for prototyping parametric architectural skins. A paper documenting their work is included in the Rob│Arch 2014 subsequent publication, Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art & Design 2014 (Springer, 2014). The two researchers were awarded the KUKA Young Potential Award for the best scientific paper presented by a young researcher at Rob│Arch 2014.

ESTm post-graduate student Nikita Troufanov joined the team from SCI-Arc courtesy of a special grant awarded by conference organizers in partnership with ABB Robotics. As part of the selection process, he submitted a chapter from his Anisotropic Formations proto-architectural project developed in a SCI-Arc studio last fall, which mixes robotics with vector-based 3D printing.

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

SCI-Arc to Host 2014 Regional Session for Mayors’ Institute on City Design

Following a nationwide selection process, SCI-Arc was announced as a regional partner and host of one of three regional sessions presented this year by the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD). The school will organize a two-day design workshop where eight mayors from the West region will convene in a closed-door session with a team of interdisciplinary design professionals to discuss design and development issues that each participating city is currently facing.

The invited mayors will represent a diversity of cities and bring a wide variety of design issues to the table. The resource team, led by SCI-Arc faculty David Bergman and Heather Flood, will include members ranging from architects and planners to public policy specialists, developers, preservationists, lawyers, landscape architects, transportation planners, and housing experts, as well as practicing professionals and distinguished academics. Each mayor will present a design issue from his or her city to be analyzed by the other mayors and the design professionals, who will then propose design solutions to help solve the problem.

The conference is supported by funding from the American Architectural Foundation through the MICD Partnership. The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors with support from United Technologies Corporation. It is designed to foster an understanding of and appreciation for the role of design in urban centers, and the importance of mayors as advocates for good design. Regional sessions—hosted in the South, Northeast, and West—are geared towards mid-to-small-sized cities, the institute format encouraging a high degree of participation and exchange, sparking lively debate, opening new perspectives, and leading to creative proposals for how contemporary civic design can help create more vibrant and livable cities.

The other two MICD regional partners selected this year are Syracuse University School of Architecture and the Florida Center for Community Design and Research (FCCDR) at the University of South Florida.

More info about MICD is available at

SCI-Arc/Caltech Solar Home Splits in Two for Solar Decathlon 2013

Students from SCI-Arc and Caltech opened their solar home to the public following yesterday’s ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the official start of Solar Decathlon 2013. DALE is located on lot #101 at the east end of the Solar Decathlon village at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. and can be visited during public hours.

Team SCI-Arc/Caltech’s DALE is a one-of-its-kind, solar-powered net zero home that enables residents to change the configuration of their living environment based on preference.

At 600 square feet, DALE is a micro house on rails with an unprecedented flexible interior, allowing it to transform into a home three times its size. It proposes a completely new approach to sustainability and includes many other engineering and design breakthroughs that ensure its energy usage is optimized.

Not only did the solar village open to the public, but yesterday also marked the first day of the competition. Team scores will be updated daily over the next week and the wining team will be announced October 12th.

In addition to the juried categories, the public can vote online for the People’s Choice Award and pick their favorite solar home at

More about DALE at and

SCI-Arc's Earthwave In the Spotlight

The Arts District Earthwave installation designed by Lebbeus Woods and built by SCI-Arc serves as backdrop for one of the actor-curated temporary homes popping up around town this weekend as part of an experiential campaign led by Airbnb.

Street installation by SCI-Arc helps pop-up home blend in with the Arts District surroundings.

Several events will be hosted at the downtown L.A. site Friday to Monday, including a neighborhood tour with actress Lake Bell, who curated the Arts District pop-up.

Though the house will disappear from the site on Monday evening, residents and visitors to the Arts District can still admire Earthwave until December 1st. The installation is presented in conjunction with a SCI-Arc Gallery exhibition celebrating late architect and draftsman Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012). The show, Lebbeus Woods is an Archetype opens at SCI-Arc on October 11.

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