September 16, 2010
The graduate thesis is a painstaking process not for the faint of heart, an academic process meant to prove one’s mettle in conceptual thought, not just studio practice. To the detriment or benefit of the thesis juggernaut — we’re not sure which — seeds of doubt are planted every so often over the purpose, outcome, and framing of the thesis.
Still, despite hesitations and alternative propositions, SCI-Arc has plodded on with it, and last week the school’s haphazard halls were filled with student work and an impressive assortment of jurors to critique it. Among the usual suspects and esteemed visiting guests were, most notably, Stefano Casciani, Mark Mückenheim , Jesse Reiser of Reiser + Umemoto, and Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects.
The annual pageant was larger than ever with over 120 graduates and 40 undergraduates participating, perhaps ironic given the number of out-of-work architects in Los Angeles alone.
This reporter noticed a trend in the augmented scale of projects compared to years past and the use of obscure materials – from fake nails to synthetic hair, and often brightly hued.
For these graduates soon to serge into this stiflingly grim economic climate, regardless of the assembled jury and their poignant or tangential comments, there was in the end, a sense of undeniable relief.
Led by Andrew Zago, MArc1 student, Austin Baker prepares to discuss his work with jurors. Photo by Jodie Bass.
Administrative heads including Eric Owen Moss and Ming Fung gave introductions while Sir Peter Cook (founding member of the beloved Archigram) emphasized the importance of nurturing play even after leaving the nest. He was followed by faculty member Joe Day, of Deegan Day Design, who delivered an alumni address “Own your revolution,” offering points of advice which began with “Burn down your parents’ house, tomorrow” — earning adulation even from the ever sardonic EOM.
According to graduate Eddie Gonzales, the takeaway from Day’s speech was our need “to support each other… to look after one-another in the future.” And while his work did not make him a finalist, his project like many others excelled in both its visual representation, as well as its creative proposal in the way thesis should be: not entirely practical nor exclusively whimsical.
Detail of model depicting proposed “suites” by Seth Weiner — public spaces for experimental music performances; his thesis questions the typology of concert hall. Photo by Jodie Bass.
Edward Gonzales speaking about his project. Photo by Jodie Bass.