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The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) was awarded a major grant from ArtPlace to design and build two new arts venues and to help plan arts programming for a third venue. These three venues are in various stages of being planned and built in the Los Angeles Arts District neighborhood. They are: (1) the Hispanic Steps, an indoor amphitheater designed by Hodgetts+Fung; (2) the Outdoor Pavilion, which will be the largest venue for the Arts District when complete; and (3) a 99-seat theater in One Santa Fe, a mixed-use, transit oriented development designed by Michael Maltzan.

Architect and educator, Marcelo Spina, along with P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Studio, was chosen to design SCI-Arc’s new outdoor venue for community arts programs, League of Shadows. On November 2, 2012, SCI-Arc hosted a community discussion in the Kappe Library Gallery, in which the designers displayed concept renderings for the new venue and discussed their design process.

About the SCI-Arc Arts District Community Anchor Project:

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) was awarded a major grant from ArtPlace to design and build two new arts venues and to help plan arts programming for a third venue. All three venues are in various stages of being planned and built for the Los Angeles Arts District neighborhood. They are: (1) the Hispanic Steps, an indoor amphitheater designed by Hodgetts+Fung, (2) the Outdoor Pavilion, which will be the largest public arts venue in the Arts District when complete and designed by Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and (3) a multi-purpose 99-seat theater in One Santa Fe, a mixed-use, transit oriented development designed by Michael Maltzan.

This month, ArtPlace spoke with Marcelo Spina, Co-principal and founder of P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, about SCI-Arc’s partnerships in the Los Angeles Arts District community.

ArtPlace: How did SCI-Arc’s neighborhood (the Los Angeles Arts District) influence the design?

Spina: We always saw the Arts District as enhancing the project, bringing a desired intensity of public use that a project like this needs to be successful over time.

ArtPlace: How do you want the League of Shadows to be received by the community?

Spina: I would like this project to belong as much to the arts community surrounding SCI-Arc as it does to the SCI-Arc campus. That is why its location, at the corner of the Historic 4th Street Bridge and Merrick Avenue is so important, because of the visibility and the exposure it provides. We see its physical presence in that corner as extremely meaningful in reasserting SCI-Arc’s engagement in the Arts District and its commitment to its cultural and social development.

It is our hope that the “League of Shadows” will become an icon that attracts public events from the surrounding community. We believe that if executed correctly, the pavilion could potentially galvanize the arts community within the downtown Los Angeles area.

Volumetric and graphic, the intent of “League of Shadows” is to maintain a certain ambiguity in its formal reading. By depicting simple volumes from the street and a carved unified grouping of enveloping surfaces from the interior, the proposal provides a dual reading. The design allows the venue to serve two purposes for the Arts District. It will serve as a landmark that can be seen from a distance, thanks to its multi-storied, simple geometric shapes. At the same time, its intricate tactile patterns and vaulted interiors allow it to serve as a formal backdrop for a wide variety of events. Furthermore, by touching the ground at four points, the structure envelops the audience, producing favorable acoustic and visual conditions for events.

ArtPlace: Why do you think your design was chosen for this project?

Spina: I think the strategic positioning of “League of Shadows” at the corner of the 4th street bridge, as well as the intent for the venue to become a beacon for SCI-Arc and the Arts District were decisive aspects in our favor. We also approached this project as a vertical proscenium, rather than a horizontally hovering pavilion, so that when not in use for events or gatherings, the structure is recognized as an icon, as opposed to an empty vessel resting in a state of abandonment. Our design also makes an opportunistic use of multiple projected shadow paths (hence the batman-derived name). The form produces enough shadow during the early and late hours of the afternoon, allowing comfort zones that are sheltered from the sun. The proposed organization of the audience follows both the intended tripartite breakdown of a seating arrangement and the incidence of shadow paths on it during a four-hour period. As a result, the organization of the audience is dynamic by necessity, allowing for a maximum capacity of 1,000 to be seated comfortably in the shadow.

PHOTO: Marcelo Spina of PATTERNS studio discusses his design proposal for the SCI-Arc Outdoor Pavilion (dubbed “SCI-Arc League of Shadows”) with SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss at the SCI-Arc Library exhibition discussion held November 2, 2012.

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