SCI-Arc's B.Arch thesis students recently presented their final thesis projects at the 2018 B.Arch Thesis Reviews, aimed at fostering discussion, debate, and mapping out new directions for architecture. The culmination of the school's five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) curriculum, the year-long thesis program challenges the next generation of designers to take clear positions, form new perspectives regarding existing challenges, and conceive solutions for issues that architects will face in the future.
On April 20-21students 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, Ferda Kolatan, Marcelo Spina, Peter Testa, M. Casey Rehm, and Keith Marks; and other SCI-Arc faculty members.
Concluding the weekend’s events, several students were recognized at a special award ceremony. Two students—Isabela De Sousa and Karim Saleh—were awarded the prestigious Blythe and Thom Mayne Undergraduate Thesis Prize, and Thesis Merit Award winners were Rishab Jain, Brandon Lim, Luciano Menghini, Andreina Pepe, Andrea Sanchez, and Sara Segura.
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.
The year-long thesis curriculum is comprised of one semester of thesis prep and one semester dedicated to the thesis studio. In thesis prep, B.Arch students state their thesis positions, which they support with drawings, images, and models designed to clearly articulate their position. SCI-Arc's thesis prep and thesis studio promote 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.
SCI-Arc is a place for ideas, and we are concentrating our B.Arch program on critical thinking, debate, and reviving oral traditions, Wiscombe says. We aim to promote and develop each student’s intellectual style.
During the thesis studio, students 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 projects that intellectually and tectonically resolve the design problems that they had stated.
This year I saw many students making new worlds that were maniacally detailed, enchanting, and almost alive, Wiscombe says. If you compare current thesis projects to those from ten years ago, there is no doubt that the school has shifted from a model focused on the virtuosity of tools to an entirely new intellectual and aesthetic milieu. I'm curious to see how new forms of speculative realism will develop and how they will crash into the banality of the everyday. Let's see what's next!
Isabela De Sousa – Advisor: Marcelo Spina
Isabela De Sousa works with a proliferation of vaulted forms in order to produce a building that negotiates between being understood as massive and filigree simultaneously. The project has a programmatic duality, requiring a mixed-use program of residential units above an auditorium. This duality drives the formal strategy as the vaulting yields a more open and porous lower level for the gathering space and becomes fenestration and arcades that punctuate the more enclosed upper portion of the building accommodating the residential units. The architecture appears to levitate within its site.
Karim Saleh (IG: @k.s.arc) – Advisor: Peter Testa
Karim Saleh’s project for a Music Center in London is comprised of two distinct architectural constituents - the wall and the hall. The wall is transformed into an occupiable space through which programs ancillary to the concert hall are interlaced with the building’s primary circulation system. The hall becomes convoluted with the circulation system, maintaining a tenuous balance between being integrated into the larger whole or remaining detached from it.
Rishab Jain (IG: @Rishab_95) – Advisor: M. Casey Rehm
Rishab Jain’s design process for a mixed-use facility utilizes the structure of an artificial intelligence game in order to produce an accumulation of layers of information derived from architectural plans. This image-based information is translated into three dimensions as a highly striated building mass. The striations act as both tectonic and structural elements in the project and produce the implication that the building is continuously in the process of completing itself.
Sara Segura – Advisors: Ferda Kolatan & Keith Marks
The Museum of the Twentieth Century in the Berlin Kulturforum is the program for Sara Segura’s thesis. The project is comprised of extruded masses and a series of arches and partial arches, producing a hypostyle hall. The architectural language of the museum, having affiliations with both hypostyle halls and courtyard typologies, creates a productive friction with its immediate context.
Luciano Menghini (IG: @lmenghini) – Advisor: Peter Testa
Luciano Menghini’s project for The Museum of the Twentieth Century in the Berlin Kulturforum amplifies the corridor typology in order to rethink the classical enfilade organization of a museum. A diverse array of corridor junctures produces a multitude of ways for visitors to encounter the contents of the museum as well as the site within which it is located.
Andreina Pepe (IG: @andreinapepe) & Andrea Sanchez (IG: @andrea.sanch) – Advisors: Peter Testa, Ferda Kolatan & Keith Marks
Andreina Pepe and Andrea Sanchez’s project for the adaptive re-use of an existing Venetian Palazzo as a school of architecture raises questions regarding authenticity and history. The accretion of new layers of material onto the building facade and into its interior produces a double reading of the architecture as something that is both contemporary but also old. The rusticated quality of the new layer challenges the ornamental aspects of the existing building and produces the impression that the building has multiple histories.
Jesus Chavez (IG: @ jjesuschavezz) – Advisors: Ferda Kolatan & Keith Marks
The LA River is the site for Jesus Chavez’s architectural intervention. The project’s infrastructural qualities are intermingled with moments where architectural elements become discernable and then merge with more ambiguous machinic parts. The project is a hybrid object that defers immediate legibility and creates a new way of seeing the context of the LA River.