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
July 19, 2012

“Hispanic Steps:” Beginning Stages of Construction – Demolition!

SCI-Arc, which stands for the Southern California Institute of Architecture, is located in the quarter-mile long 1907 Santa Fe rail depot in the heart of the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The school grants undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees in Architecture, Urban Design and Emerging Design Technologies. SCI-Arc recently made a long-term commitment to the Arts District neighborhood when it purchased its building. It is now making an investment in the neighborhood by opening up its campus to serve community groups and artists of all disciplines with new gathering spaces to present, promote and exchange ideas.

ArtPlace asked Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc’s Chief Operating Officer, to give us SCI-Arc’s elevator pitch and to detail how the SCI-Arc project will increase vibrancy in the Los Angeles Arts District.

ARTPLACE: What is your elevator pitch when you describe your project to people?

BENNETT: SCI-Arc has always been about new ideas. Throughout our forty-year history, there has been a tradition of challenging the status quo and presenting provocative architecture and design programming to the public. Somewhat ironically, the purchase of its building now makes dynamic SCI-Arc a major stabilizing anchor in the downtown Arts District. With the influx of new residents and small businesses joining an already diverse group of artists and entrepreneurs in the Arts District, SCI-Arc saw the need for new cultural venues for its neighborhood.  We are seeing SCI-Arc become a cultural hub that serves many community groups and supports many different types of activities in the Arts District. By increasing accessibility to creative groups, SCI-Arc will foster discussion among practitioners in disciplines beyond architecture such as design, technology, performance, visual arts, politics, music, dance, and film.

ARTPLACE: How do you expect to increase vibrancy in the place you are working?

BENNETT: We see this grant as a resource which adds public spaces and community amenities to an area long inhabited by artists and creative individuals. By promoting creative dialogues, SCI-Arc does and will, with the help of this grant, provide the Arts District insight into our own mission to reinvent the edge of architecture.

SCI-Arc hopes to attract new audiences, artists, arts-friendly businesses, and foot traffic by increasing local economic and cultural opportunities. With ArtPlace funding, we are building two new venues, the indoor “Hispanic Steps” and the Outdoor Pavilion. In addition we are playing a part in the planning for a third venue, a 99-seat theatre at One Santa Fe, which is a mixed use development that includes artists housing, retail, and an extension of the city’s Metro Red Line subway. When complete, the Red Line stop and new theatre at One Santa Fe will be located adjacent to SCI-Arc and will form the first transit entry point into the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. These projects, combined with the recent relocation of SCI-Arc’s Art Supply Store and full-service Print Center to pedestrian-friendly storefronts on East 3rd Street, will promote economic growth and attract new visitors and residents to the Arts District.

We just began construction on the Hispanic Steps and we are moving the project along very quickly. The indoor amphitheater is expected to be completely finished by the end of the summer, in time for the first day of fall semester. The venue was designed by Hodgetts+Fung and when finished, will accommodate up to 100 people with state of the art A/V equipment.