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
December 29, 2012

On December 4, 2012, SCI-Arc hosted a meeting to discuss future plans for the Arts District and the One Santa Fe development project. Everyone took a timeout from the meeting to pose for a photo in the recently completed SCI-Arc Hispanic Steps. Front row, left to right: Timothy Keating, founding member of LARABA and President of LADAD Space; Sarah Sullivan, SCI-Arc Chief Advancement Officer; and Jonathan Jerold, founding member of LARABA and Board Member of LADAD Space. Back row, left to right: Andrew Kasdin, City of Los Angeles, DCA Arts Manager; Olga Garay-English, City of Los Angeles, DCA Executive Director; and Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc Chief Operating Officer.

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 Jamie Bennett, SCI-Arc Chief Operating Officer, about how the project is moving ahead.

ArtPlace: Have there been any unexpected issues you’ve had to face?

Jamie Bennett: ArtPlace’s grant to the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) supports the addition of three new community arts venues to downtown Los Angeles: the SCI-Arc Outdoor Pavilion, the SCI-Arc Hispanic Steps, and a new 99-seat theater at One Santa Fe. With all the work and details involved in developing three different community arts centers, it was almost impossible to plan for every detail. However, thanks to a combination of preparation, effective design strategies and hard work, SCI-Arc continues to make progress on its creative placemaking work in our downtown Los Angeles neighborhood.

One issue that SCI-Arc could not anticipate comes from an unexpected area of the grant project, the new 99-seat theater at One Santa Fe. Despite the fact that this project represents the smallest portion of our ArtPlace grant, it currently consumes the greatest amount of time and planning. The McGregor Company, the developer of the proposed mixed-use One Santa Fe Project, has generously offered the Arts District a 5,000 sf space to be used as a community arts center and theater, charging a rental fee of $1.00 per yr for 30 years. The value of such a lease is well over one million dollars. While this multi-purpose theater represents an exhilarating opportunity for the Arts District, still there is a lot of preparation to be done to ensure that the space will become a sustainable, integral asset to the community.

One Santa Fe is a complex project with many groups involved in its development. When finished, it will become an economic driver for our neighborhood, with a six-story building featuring a grocery store, additional retail spaces, a gallery, and planned residential spaces designated for low-income households. It is essential that community leaders work together to build a venue that complements and reinforces the Arts District’s growth because the theater will occupy a prominent location within One Santa Fe. Partnerships are now a key part in the success of this new venue and the planning component of the theater is a priority for SCI-Arc.

ArtPlace: How are you dealing with this issue?

Jamie Bennett: Communication and teamwork. SCI-Arc recently hosted a meeting with all members involved in the theater project in order to create a strategy for the success of the theater. SCI-Arc hopes to remain a conduit of information and communication, so that everyone works together effectively. As previously mentioned, SCI-Arc believes the secret to good partnerships is not to have a “we-they mindset,” but to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. SCI-Arc will approach the issue involving the One Santa Fe Theater with this same outlook.

ArtPlace: Does SCI-Arc have any additional updates to share?

Jamie Bennett: Yes, actually, we recently received a piece of fantastic news. On December 3, 2012, United States Artists (USA), a national grantmaking and arts advocacy organization, announced that Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich, the architects behind the new ArtPlace-funded SCI-Arc Outdoor Pavilion, are the recipients of a 2012 USA fellowship, an annual fellowship program that honors America’s finest artists. We are especially pleased that the designers responsible for the Outdoor Pavilion are being recognized nationally for their talented work and innovative practice of integrating digital technology with a profound consideration of form and new materials.