A dynamic post-professional program in Emerging Systems, Technologies, & Media (ESTm) offered by the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles has been charged with examining core contemporary issues facing architecture and design today. Spanning topics from advanced manufacturing methodologies to new building systems, this one year Master of Design Research track allows professionals to rethink architecture and design through the experimental hands-on approach of the SCI-Arc community.
The ESTm program tests new levels of environmental performance as it prepares students to successfully integrate formal, technical, logistical, and material processes into advanced architectural designs. The program is open to graduates in architecture, engineering, product design, computer sciences and other professionals who wish to develop advanced research and design skills in light of continuously evolving materials and new production paradigms of the 21st century.
ESTm focuses on technology as it applies to the present and future of design, computation, media, digital fabrication, robotic manufacturing, sustainable engineering, material ecologies, and novel tectonics. It does so through a hands-on approach to design research that has students seamlessly moving between theory and computer simulation and from learning to swing a hammer to sewing material. Studios encourage fabrication and experimentation and provide access to a technologically transformative digital fabrication lab, the Magic Box, which opened at SCI-Arc in January 2015.
ESTm alumni obtain the skills to pursue design and technology positions in architecture firms, as well in fields such as civil engineering, building systems design, product design, and infrastructure design. Several ESTm graduates have been recruited directly from the program by both emerging and well-established companies within the creative industry. Nikita Troufanov, MDesR ’14, was recently recruited by Nike’s Innovation Team to serve as a Computational Designer in their San Francisco office. Troufanov’s work caught Nike’s attention when a company designer and recruiter attended SCI-Arc’s Graduate Thesis Weekend. “They saw my project and it stood out to them as something relevant to Nike,” Nikita explains. “My work at SCI-Arc has been heavily involved with robotics, computation, and material manipulation, and my current position at Nike lets me continue the same design/research topics in a new context. SCI-Arc gave me a lot of technical skills and a fresh outlook on design. More importantly, it taught me to be idea driven, which is a very important skill in today’s rapidly evolving world of design and technology.”
The ESTm program is led by long-time faculty member and architect Marcelo Spina, who works hand-in-hand with the institute’s directors on shaping the ESTm curriculum with a goal to address the most pressing topics in architecture, design and building technologies. Working with progressive architects, designers, and theorists worldwide, students propose the next-generation of architecture, going head-to-head in reviews with internationally renowned architects teaching at SCI-Arc, including Andrew Zago, Peter Testa, Tom Wiscombe, Elena Manferdini, Eric Owen Moss, Marcelyn Gow, Ming Fung and Hernan Diaz Alonso, among others. Details about the program, including project images, student news and video can be found on the program blog at www.estm.us.