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History of SCI-Arc

SCI-Arc was founded in 1972 in Santa Monica by a group of faculty and students from the Department of Architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who wanted to approach the subject from a more experimental perspective than traditional schools offered. Originally called the New School, SCI-Arc was based on the concept of a “college without walls,” and it remains one of the few independent architecture schools in the world.

1972
SCI-Arc, aka the New School, begins its first year in October with seven instructors, including director Ray Kappe, and seventy students at 1800 Berkeley Street, Santa Monica.

1974
Graduate program begins. Students build temporary structures in Washington, DC, as part of the ACSA national convention.

1976
Undergraduate and graduate programs receive initial NAAB accreditation. The CCAIA presents an Excellence in Education Award to director Ray Kappe, and an honor award to students and faculty for the renovation of 1800 Berkeley Street.

1978
European studies program begins in Nimes, France.

1982
Students and staff found Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR).

1983
“Downtown Los Angeles: The Urban Revival: 7 Panel Discussion and a Charrette” receives commendation from the Mayor’s Office.

1984
European studies program begins in Vico Marcote, Switzerland. “Plug Into the Information Age” symposium receives American Planning Association (APA) Award.

1986
First Japanese exchange with Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokyo. House in Evolution exhibition of undergraduate student work at the Santa Barbara Museum.

1987
Alumnus Michael Rotondi becomes director. Making+Meaning: The Foundation Program in Architecture begins in summer.

1988
SCI-Arc receives an NEH grant to develop a humanities curriculum appropriate to architectural education. Moscow Studio launches, the nation’s first student and faculty exchange with the Moscow Institute of Architecture. Vitruvius Program of architectural education for elementary-school children begins. Offramp #1 published.

1990
Ray Kappe receives the ACSA/AIA Topaz medallion for lifelong excellence in architectural education. “The River in the City” symposium, cosponsored with the Mayor’s Office and Friends of the Los Angeles River.

1991
SCI-Arc and Yale represent the United States in the Venice Biennale.

1992
School moves to industrial building at 5454 Beethoven Street.

1993
Public Access Press publishing program begins. Exhibition/silent action of architectural drawings raises $40,000 for scholarships.

1994
Building in Los Angeles guidebook published for AIA national conference. Shop donates play houses to preschool. “Insurgent Urbanism” summer program. Kappe Library dedication. “LA/LA: Los Angeles/Latin America” summer program begins.

1995
Undergraduate and graduate programs receive initial WASC accreditation. Cycles of Expression exhibition at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

1996
Friday noon lectures in science and technology begin. Next Exit: L.A. exhibition/publication at the International Union of Architects Conference, Barcelona. Into the Oven exhibition/publication of student work at La Fornace, Italy.

1997
Neil M. Denari becomes director. Website www.sciarc.edu initiated. First FormZ software workshop.

1998
First paperless studio. Video presentation project launched. Strategic plan with Getty grant. “Artificial Ecologies” “NL&LA” program with Berlage Institute. A Difficult Balance: Housing for People with AIDS published.

2000
Postgraduate Metropolitan Research and Design (MR+D) program launched. Graduate program ranked 12th in U.S. News and World Report. Move to temporary buildings at Freight Yard, downtown Los Angeles. Renovation of Freight Depot begins. SFMOMA hosts exhibition The Architecture of Graphics: Designs for SCI-Arc from its permanent collection of Architecture and Design. Then and Now: Evolution Through Practice alumni work exhibition. EU international exchange program begins.

2001
Renovation of permanent home at Freight Depot completed and first classes held there. Mayor proclaims SCI-Arc Day. Bill Simonian honored by the NAAA as outstanding advisor. “Which Way LA?” live broadcast. MOCA features Freight Depot in What’s Shakin’: New Architecture in L.A. exhibition. Service Spot dedicated at Skid Row Housing Trust.

2002
Eric Owen Moss appointed director. SCI-Arc Gallery opens, the only cultural institution in L.A. committed to exhibiting experimental projects by contemporary architects. “Gray, Green, and Brown: Projects and Scenarios for the L.A. River” charrette cosponsored with MOCA’s Public and Artist Program.

2003
SCI-Arc receives commendation from city councilmember Jan Perry’s office. SCI-Arc, UCLA, and Columbia University represent United States at 1st International Architectural Biennale Rotterdam. SCI-Arc featured in “Life and Times” on KCET. SCI-Arc Supply Store opens. Lebbeus Woods workshop and installation.

2004
SCI-Arc and Art Center College of Design collaborate on an exhibition at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center. Imagination and Reality exhibition at the First Beijing Dashanzi International Art Festival, co-curated by Robert Mangurian and Mary-Ann Ray, with the Chinese artists Huang Rui and Lu Pinjin. SCI-Arc students design and build a new sun shelter for LAMP.

2005
Academic year shifts, resulting in graduate thesis and graduation opening the calendar year and undergraduate thesis closing it. SCI-Arc Press prints first two publications, Sessions and Zago Architecture and Office dA: Two Installations. SCIFI post-professional program launches in summer. SCI-Arc students exhibit in 2 x 8 Motion at A+D Museum. SCI-Arc participates in 2nd International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam. “Whatever Happened to L.A.?” symposium and publication. Ahmanson Foundation grant awarded to support library acquisitions.

2006
Temporary graduation pavilion program initiated. Academic initiative with the schools of architecture at Pratt Institute, SCI-Arc, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. SKY-Arc, Coop Himmelb(l)au exhibition of commissioned master plan study for the open site adjacent to SCI-Arc. SCI-Arc and the MAK Center Vertical Garden competition at the Schindler House.

2007
Robert A. Day Foundation gifts $1 million, dedicated to state-of-the-art technology and facilities. MediaSCAPES postgraduate program launches. SCI-Arc hosts 2007 Architecture Education Summit. Eric Owen Moss wins the Arnold W. Brunner Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. SCI-Arc Community Design Program presents Sonic Bloom, an installation at the Southwest Museum. SCIFI studio conducts joint workshop with the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, Stockholm.

2008
SCI-Arc Press releases the first issue of Onramp, a yearly collection of essays and student work. COO and director of development positions hired. Twenty-fifth anniversary of SCI-Arc Vico Morcote study program. SCI-Arc hosts APA National Awards Ceremony. “House as Manifesto: SCI-Arc in Austria” workshop and symposium at the MAK center, Vienna.

2009
A New Infrastructure: Transit Solutions for Los Angeles, SCIFI open ideas competition and publication. “Rock and Roll Fantasy” studio designs temporary spatial installation for Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Included in Divergent Convergence: Designing China, a groundbreaking exhibition of academic research and design work at the Beijing Planning Center.

2010
Hsinming Fung appointed director of academic affairs. Hernan Diaz Alonso becomes graduate programs chair and John Enright Undergraduate Program Chair. SCI-Arc alumni featured in the group exhibition Contemplating the Void: Interventions at the Guggenheim Museum. Los Angeles Cleantech Corridor & Green District Competition organized by SCI-Arc and the Architect’s Newspaper. Jerry Neuman becomes chair of the Board of Trustees. SCI-Arc Press publishes SCI-Arc Gallery 2002-10. First issue of SCI-Arc bi-yearly magazine published.

2011
SCI-Arc announces purchase of Santa Fe Freight Depot building and land. ESTm post-professional program launches. SCI-Arc/Caltech’s Hanwha Solar CHIP House takes sixth place in the international Solar Decathlon 2011 competition. Robot House opens with six Staübli robot arms. “Material Beyond Materials,” composite tectonics conference on advanced materials and digital manufacturing. General studies curriculum added. Design Immersion Days, a summer program for high school students, begins.

2012
SCI-Arc Media Archive, home to more than six hundred videos and seven hundred speakers, launches. Graduation Pavilion Competition results in winning design from faculty Marcelo Spina and Georgiana Huljich of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S. SCI-Arc ABROAD series launches. Hispanic Steps built with grant from Art Place. Frank Gehry and wife Berta endow the Gehry Prize, awarded annually to the best graduate thesis at SCI-Arc.

2013
Los Angeles developer and trustee Tom Gilmore endows the Gilmore City Chair with $1 million planned gift. A Confederacy of Heretics, The Architecture Gallery, Venice, 1979 SCI-Arc Gallery and Library exhibition opens, part of the Getty-initiated Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. SCI-Arc ranks #1 in Western U.S. in America’s Best Architecture Schools survey by Design Intelligence. SCI-Arc and Caltech compete in 2013 Solar Decathlon.

2014
SCI-Arc hosts 2014 Regional Session for Mayor’s Institute on City Design. SCI-Arc team demos at Rob | Arch with two Stäubli TX60L industrial robots. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at graduation. Michael Rotondi receives Richard J. Neutra Medal and AIA LA 25-Year Award. Earthwave, part of the Lebbeus Woods Is an Archetype gallery exhibition, is installed on rooftop of Tom Gilmore’s building in downtown Los Angeles. SCI-Arc collaborates with Habitat for Humanity LA in the design of affordable housing to be built in L.A. County.

2015
SCI-Arc opens the Magic Box, a new four-thousand-square-foot, two-story, technologically transformative digital fabrication lab. Hernan Diaz Alonso becomes SCI-Arc’s fifth director, with John Enright as vice-director. Tom Wiscombe is appointed undergraduate chair and Elena Manferdini graduate chair. SCI-Arc Channel launches, a new online video platform for the communication of ideas with a particular focus on the contemporary culture of Los Angeles. Tom Gilmore appointed chair of the Board of Trustees. Master class series initiated with Graham Harman. EDGE, Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture is announced, with four postgraduate degrees launching in September 2016.