Fresh Takes: A Close-Up Look at SCI-Arc’s BArch Thesis Program 

SCI-Arc's B.Arch thesis students recently presented projects in progress at midterm reviews aimed at fostering discussion, debate, and direction. The culmination of the school's five-year B.Arch curriculum, the year-long thesis program challenges the next generation of designers to take firm positions, form fresh perspectives, and conceive solutions for issues that architects will face in the future.

Students presented projects to this year’s special thesis advisor, Los Angeles–based architect Neil M. Denari; Tom Wiscombe, the chair of the B.Arch program; advisors including B.Arch thesis coordinator Marcelyn Gow, Ramiro Diaz-Granados, Marcelo Spina, Peter Testa, M. Casey Rehm, Ferda Kolatan, and Melissa Shin; and other SCI-Arc faculty members.

The B.Arch program at SCI-Arc encourages students to contemplate the role of architects in society and their impact on theoretical and technological innovations while gaining practical knowledge and critical thinking skills. The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)-accredited program prepares graduates to become licensed architects who establish their own practices, join successful studios, or pursue a variety of related career paths.

At midterm reviews, B.Arch students state their thesis positions, which they support with drawings, images, and models created within the first five weeks of the program. SCI-Arc's thesis prep semester promotes discourse that builds upon previous liberal arts electives and lectures. Students learn research methods, study architectural precedents, develop problem-solving skills, and complete exercises that empower them to communicate effectively.

In the second semester of the thesis program, students continue to hone their positions and define design problems that address both their personal interests and global issues that are relevant to the discipline and practice of architecture. Then students select sites and establish programs, ultimately conceiving schematic designs for structures that intellectually and tectonically resolve the design problems that they had stated.

The following images and descriptions showcase a selection of projects recently presented by B.Arch thesis students:

Jesus Chavez has created a series of digital models that bridge reality and imagination, proposing novel possibilities for an architecture that is raw and ambiguous. Each model comprises industrial objects and elements extracted from architectural drawings and merges them in unexpected ways. The resulting forms can be perceived as either pieces of infrastructure or architecture.

Jesus Chavez (IG: @__jesuschavez) – Advisors: Ferda Kolatan and Melissa Shin. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc

Luciano Menghini’s work taps into the potential for circulation zones to foster social engagement and serendipitous encounters. Menghini conceives a “confused object” that combines architectural elements and familiar freestanding features, resulting in transformative spaces that confound expectations of what architecture can and should be.

Luciano Menghini (IG: @lmenghini) – Advisor: Peter Testa. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc

Exploring the ephemeral aspects of architecture, Isabela De Sousa's drawings reimagine the interior spaces of the Henri Labrouste reading room in the National Library in Paris, revealing the connections between small-scale objects—such as bookshelves and tables—and the voluminous structure of the roof.

Isabela De Sousa– Advisors: Ramiro Diaz-Granados and Marcelo Spina. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc

Inspired by John Hejduk’s Bye House, which is organized around a planar central spine, Karim Saleh’s project examines the potential of the wall as more than a means of enclosure. Saleh reframes these two-dimensional surfaces as poché elements that—depending on height, articulation, and composition—can establish spatial hierarchies, facilitate circulation, and demarcate public and private zones.

Karim Saleh (IG: @k.s.arc) – Advisor: Peter Testa. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc
Karim Saleh (IG: @k.s.arc) – Advisor: Peter Testa. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc

Angelo Gray’s project plays with perspective by introducing architectural avatars that take on new identities when viewed from different angles. These models prompt the observer to question the characteristics and scale of familiar objects.

Angelo Gray (IG: @angelo_gray_) – Advisors: Ferda Kolatan and Melissa Shin. Image Courtesy of SCI-Arc

SCI-Arc’s B.Arch thesis students will continue to refine and develop their projects this semester, and they will present their progress at a final review in December. Keep up with the progression of these students' thesis projects by following @sciarc on Instagram or the students’ personal accounts, which are noted in the captions above. To see additional B.Arch thesis work, search #sciarcUGthesis.

SCI-Arc students will be available to share more about their work and their SCI-Arc experiences on Saturday, November 18th at the school’s annual Online Open House. To register for the event, visit SCI-Arc Online Open House. The deadline to apply for the fall 2018 semester for first-year B.Arch students is January 15, 2018, and the deadline for students seeking to transfer from other architecture programs is February 12, 2018.

Cite: "Fresh Takes: A Close-Up Look at SCI-Arc’s BArch Thesis Program " 26 Oct 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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