MArch to the beat

Points of interest from the Master of Architecture program at the California College of the Arts

  • Creative Architecture Machines Colloquium at the California College of the Arts

    The Creative Architecture Machines Colloquium, held at CCA's Timken Hall on November 3rd and hosted by the Digital Craft Lab and arranged by Jason Kelly Johnson of CCA and Future Cities Lab, was a special chance to gather luminaries in the field of robotics and 3D printing in architecture from around the Bay Area in the same room to hear their varying research trajectories and thinkings about the future of manufacturing architecture. And if you're wondering what a "colloquium" is, don't worry, so did most of the audience. Explained Jason, it's a much less formal version of a symposium. The atmosphere was light and each of the five speakers gave short presentations about their current work, some rendered that very morning. 

    Jason Kelly Johnson set the tone for the discussion with an introduction to the work of the Creative Architecture Machines studio at CCA, a class I was a part of a year ago.

    Joshua Zabel, Director of Digital Fabrication at Kreysler & Associates, recalled the company's history of hacking CNC machines together for sculptural production since the early 80's. This has carried through to their work now, where they will hack Grasshopper to generate their own g-code instead of putting up with the faulty software that comes with the massive machines producing the facade for Snohetta's redevelopment of SFMOMA facade. A small portion of the talk that became integral later was the unusual chance they now had to patent the fireproofing technology they invented to create the carbon fiber facade.

    Andrew Atwood, of UC Berkeley and First Office, presented works that hack the physical and digital representational systems architects unquestioningly use everyday, from 3D printers to 3D rendering engines. His eloquently presented work ranged from purely academic inquiry to ephemeral built spaces, playing on the implementation of incursion on digital and physical renderings by layering bitmaps of bitmaps on bitmaps, or building up layers of different "base white" paints to create subtle, ghostly images in his built spaces.

    Ron Rael, of UC Berkeley, Emerging Objects, and Rael San Fratello, presented his office's seminal work in developing and testing new 3D printable materials; proposing ever larger, self-supporting panel systems. Interestingly, the most noteworthy sections of the talk concerned intellectual property rights and how spearheading these fields of research should remain the personal property of their inventors.

    Fedor Novikov, of Labori, Inc., is very much at the forefront of this ideology of monetizing research. Working with his brother Peter, who guided much of the robotics fabrication research at the IAAC, he is looking for opportunities to test such construction methods in the cutthroat Bay Area startup scene. 

    And finally, Brandon Kruysman and Jonathan Proto, of Bot & Dolly, presented their cinematic beginnings at Sci-Arc's Robot House, which contributed to the visualization explorations that inform their current work. Their video experiments attempt to spatialize the two-dimensional screen, exploiting robotically precise movements to capture images in space over time.

    It's incredibly exciting to have all of the world's most innovative researchers in the fields of 3D printing and robotic fabrication gathering in the Bay Area, a seemingly natural fit for such endeavors. The evening ended with a lively discussion, mostly dominated by conversations of intellectual property rights and the monetization versus open-sourcing of design technologies. In some ways it was a more robust dialogue than the ones at ACADIA a few weeks ago, in that these were rife with political stakes: what is the role of intellectual property in academia? Who should profit from this research? What is the proper role academic institutions should take in negotiating and encouraging the patenting of student/educator design? But whether you're generating new building business models or patenting new building materials the real question is: what's the larger project? Which is what the always astute professor Irene Cheng attempted to tease out of the panelists with her question: what are the broader implications? She left it open for them to choose their own arena: social, economic, aesthetic, etc. What seemed to be the consensus was that this is difficult to answer when you are at the tip of the spear of research. Moving at the speeds one needs to these days to stay on top or ahead of the game, perhaps you don't have time to ask these questions, Labori Inc.'s forward-looking business research aside. Which is a shame, because there is great potential for rapid prototyping to engage politics; polygons versus policy; polimetricism over parametricism. The innovator to excite more than technological euphoria in the public realm will surely emerge a success in any or all of these research arenas.

  • Faulders Studio's The Crystalline World: SUBHEDRAL

    Last summer a small group of CCA graduate students assisted professor Thom Faulders in assembling a project called The Crystalline World: SUBHEDRAL, a collaboration with CCA professor Lynn Marie Kirby, for theElectronic Pacific exhibition at SOMArts. This provided an opportunity to...

    Making of Faulders Studio's The Crystalline World: SUBHEDRAL

  • CCA+AIR (Audi Innovation Research) Fellowship: Beyond Mobility

    Audi AG's innovation research office in San Francisco has teamed up with CCA for a two week intensive workshop, an interdisciplinary collaboration geared towards exploring the car as a key intersection in a broader network of interconnected devices. Spearheaded on the AIR side by Markus Auerbach...

  • Creative Architecture Machines Final Review

    Our advanced options studio this semester at CCA has been focused on engineering and constructing Grasshopper/Firefly/Arduino-controlled three-dimensional object producing machines, our own 3D printer prototypes, built from scratch. The final review will be this Saturday, December 7th, and it...

  • CCA Graduate Architecture Programs Info Night

    It's difficult to judge a visiting lecturer's enjoyability potential because they are an unknown quantity, which will NOT be the issue next Monday night, November 4th, as some of the most compelling professors teaching here at CCA will come together to present the graduate architecture offerings...

  • An Olfactory Archive: 1738-1969 (Test Sites Symposium Exhibition)

    If you walked into CCA's nave this week you would have been greeted by what appears to be a primitive laboratory experiment, hard metal rods lightly supporting odd flasks and stoppers. But if you got too close to a particular few of them you would have gotten a face full of rank so heinous it...

  • The Future Of Architecture Is In Robotic Hands

    This semester I have the great fortune of being enrolled in Jason Kelly Johnson's (co-founder of Future Cities Lab) Creative Architecture Machines advanced options studio here at CCA. Co-taught with Michael Shiloh, a community manager with Arduino, this studio's focus is on operational...

    The Future Of Architecture Is In Robotic Hands - Polydexter 1.0

  • CCA 2013 Warm-Up Design Charette Competition

    Studio is put off for a few days in the first week of every fall for CCA Architecture and Interior Design Department's Warm-Up Design Charette Competition and this year saw all of the bachelors and masters and interior design students get thrown into teams of eight to ten members to essentially...

  • CCA Fall 2013 Lecture Series

    The California College of the Arts will host an amazing lecture series this semester, featuring a pretty great panel in mid-October under the topic Test Sites: Experiments in the History of Space, including a return to CCA by Keller Easterling who lectured here last fall. A highlight for me will...

  • Radical Representation (All Tomorrow's Parties) Spring 2013

    Architecture is consumed through it’s representation. Some say it’s representation is the only true architecture. Radical Representation was an advanced course, taught by Greg Hurcomb with software tutorials by Flori Kryethi, that explored innovative methods of architectural...

    Jeff Maeshiro Midterm Presentation

    Jeff Maeshiro Final Presentation

  • Major Changes at the California College of the Arts Architecture Program

    There will be major changes for the architecture program at CCA this year as Ila Berman, Director of Architecture from 2008 to 2013, will be leaving to take the position of director of the School of Architecture at Waterloo University in Ontario, Canada. Her partner, Mona El Khafif, will also be...

  • Business Insider Ranks CCA #18 Design School in the World

    Business Insider conducted a survey of design professionals and compiled a ranking of the top design schools in the world, in which CCA came in at #18!  RISD and MIT were numbers one and two respectively.


    Our graduate architecture seminar—led by our indefatigable professor Irene Cheng—recently put together an exhibition of our individual research projects, in-depth explorations of a particular historic or contemporary utopian venture, in an effort to bring a bit of architectural...

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