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Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

10:45 - 11 August, 2016
Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.

Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark +25

Matter, Light, and Form: Architectural Photographs of Wayne Thom, 1968-2003

08:52 - 8 November, 2015
Matter, Light, and Form: Architectural Photographs of Wayne Thom, 1968-2003

This fall, the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University presents Matter, Light, and Form: Architectural Photographs of Wayne Thom, 1968-2003 at the Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery (WUHO).

Wayne Thom, an architectural photographer who built a practice under the tutelage of A. Quincy Jones, was a success from the start, quickly establishing a position as one of the leading figures in the ‘visual communication’ of architectural projects and ideas, working for developers and architects throughout the North American west and Asia, and often photographing a project from its first promotional models to finished buildings.

“Drylands Resilience Initiative” Awarded AIA Latrobe Prize

13:00 - 2 April, 2015
“Drylands Resilience Initiative” Awarded AIA Latrobe Prize, via ALI
via ALI

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected a team led by Woodbury University's Arid Lands Institute for its “Drylands Resilience Initiative: Digital Tools for Sustainable Urban Design in Arid and Semi-Arid Urban Centers” to receive the 2015 Latrobe Prize.

The Latrobe Prize, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. The $100,000 award will enable the Arid Lands Institute (ALI) and its cross-disciplinary partners to further develop and test a proprietary digital design tool, known as “Hazel,” that eventually will enable arid communities anywhere to design and build the infrastructure needed to capture, retain and distribute stormwater runoff. 

Architects Tackle LA's Water Scarcity

00:00 - 3 November, 2013
Arid Land Institute Geo-spatial Model. Image © Arid Land Institute
Arid Land Institute Geo-spatial Model. Image © Arid Land Institute

Water scarcity is a profound challenge for designers of the built environment. Beyond looking for water sources and creating sustainable ecosystems, how can we begin to create cities and buildings that will help us to celebrate and mitigate hydro-logical concerns? Hadley and Peter Arnold, co-directors of the Arid Land Institute (ALI) at Woodbury University, have decided to tackle this problem around Los Angeles. With the support of the World Water Forum and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, they recently developed a high-resolution geospatial model to strategically identify and quantify the potential for improving storm water capture within urban areas. 

VIDEO: 40 Years On, The Lessons of PREVI

00:00 - 28 August, 2013

The students of the MSArch in Landscape and Urbanism program at Woodbury University in San Diego have shared this video on Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda (PREVI): a late 1960s social housing experiment in Lima, Peru, which, backed by the Peruvian government and the UN, involved the best social housing architects of the day.

The designs, part of the later, more humanist strain of modernism, were intended to allow families - who were used to holding complete control over the construction of their own homes - to appropriate the houses. However, they were also designed to imply how future construction might prevent the proliferation of chaos present in previous slums. The video asks how residents feel about their experimental homes today, questioning the success of this design strategy, 40 years after the project's completion. 

Find out more about the outcome of the PREVI experiment, after the break...

Video: The late Pedro E. Guerrero speaking at the Julius Shulman Institute

19:00 - 18 September, 2012

Last April, we announced the opening of Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographs of Modern Life – a retrospective exhibition organized by the Julius Shulman Institute (JSI) at Woodbury University that honored the incredible life and career of the great 20th century architectural photographer, Pedro E. Guerrero (1917-2012). JSI was thankful to have Guerrero join the exhibition’s opening night, where he entertained the crowd with his charismatic personality as he shared fascinating stories from his life.

Sadly, the world is still in mourning over Guerrero’s passing last week, as he died at the age of 95 on Thursday, September 13, 2012, at his home in Florence, Arizona.

Woodbury University and the Julius Shulman Institute would like to share a few words from JSI director Emily Bills:

“The Julius Shulman Institute is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pedro E. Guerrero. We were honored to host a retrospective of his work last April, which included the lively, and often hilarious, conversation he shared with Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Guerrero will be remembered as one of the great architectural photographers of the twentieth century, capturing the essence of work by Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durell Stone, Marcel Breuer, Joseph P. Salerno, and many others. He will be dearly missed.”

Read Guerrero’s obituary in the New York Times and the LA Times to learn more about his epic life and career. Continue after the break to view some of his best photographs that were featured at the exhibition. 

Advancing Sustainability: Business + Design Symposium

11:00 - 29 September, 2011
Courtesy of Woodbury University
Courtesy of Woodbury University

Business and interior architecture students of Woodbury University present: 2011 ADVANCING SUSTAINABILITY – BUSINESS + DESIGN SYMPOSIUM Saturday, October 29, 2011, 10:30-5:30. This year’s symposium will focus on sustainability within the scope of business and design.

The metropolitan area of Los Angeles is facing many environmental, infrastructural and socio-economical challenges in the 21st century. In order to address these, different sustainable concepts and technologies are being developed and successfully implemented. Despite the existence of such solutions, the process of rethinking the world requires time and persistence. More information on the event after the break.