SCI-Arc Arts District Anchor Project

Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)

Funding Received: 2012
Los Angeles, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 2, 2013

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 checked in with Eric Owen Moss to ask him about future plans for creative placemaking at SCI-Arc.

ArtPlace: How will the work you’ve begun be sustained in the community after your ArtPlace grant?  

EOM: After the ArtPlace grant, the Arts District will continue to be part of the discourse here at SCI-Arc, extending the discussion of art and architecture out into the community. The Outdoor Pavilion can be used for films, music, political debates, lectures, screenings, etc. It is large enough to be a neighborhood icon, with the scale and buildings in the Arts District at mostly three or four stories high, and it is unusual in scale and shape so you will be able to see it from downtown Los Angeles. And because we’re in Southern California, we can use the Pavilion year-round. That may not work in Minneapolis or Saint Petersburg, but it works in L.A. We can drop a screen, show a film, set-up the stage, and seating can be arranged in a number of ways. The Pavilion also sits next to the 4th Street Bridge, a major connection between Boyle Heights and the eastern part of downtown. It is designed to give a new experience to people in the neighborhood and people going by.

The Hispanic Steps are located in the heart of the building, next to our café which is open to the public. Since the Steps opened, the community already is coming in to have something to eat and hang-out on the Steps. The café had a smaller stove, but now we’re trying to equip it with a larger stove, hood and ventilation. We want the community to come in for our SCI-Arc Gallery exhibitions, public lectures, and events then stay, have something to eat, and socialize. It comes back to the purpose of the Hispanic Steps as a gathering place 

ArtPlace: How has this work affected the work you will do beyond the grant period?

EOM: SCI-Arc always is asking what’s next. As an example, with the opening of One Santa Fe, a mixed use project across the street from SCI-Arc, and a planned new Metro station, our rooftop could be the perfect site for an ongoing series of experimental public art installations. You’ll be able to see them from the streets of the Arts District and from the downtown high rises on Figueroa and Hill Street. Part of this creates vitality at the gateway entrance to the Arts District and part of this ensures the arts remain active in the Arts District.

And for the first time, an upcoming SCI-Arc Gallery exhibition [Lebbeus Woods] will have both an indoor exhibition on campus and a temporary outdoor sculpture at a busy Arts District intersection.

ArtPlace: What do you see as architecture’s role in creative placemaking?

EOM: It’s important not to look at architecture in an inclusive or introspective way, as architecture or art or as a poetic, artistic, or a complete image of the future—architecture qua architecture, forget everything else.

Architecture is a facilitator of a certain kind of experience, organization or structure for people on site or off site. The role for architecture is to create a shared perspective where people assemble with a sense of vitality, energy and life for the neighborhood.