Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)

Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)

A school of architectural thinking

Los Angeles, CA

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SCI-Arc and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles Complete Innovative, Sustainable and Affordable Home for Local Veteran and Family

By sciarcnews
Jun 20, '16 2:33 PM EST

Dedication Ceremony Scheduled for June 24

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 20, 2016) – SCI-Arc is thrilled to announce the completion of a new home designed by SCI-Arc students in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA), Los Angeles County 2nd District, General Motors Foundation and Bernards. A dedication to celebrate the new three bedroom, 2 ½ bath home will take place on Friday, June 24 from 10am – 11am at 1232 W. 101st Street in Los Angeles. Belete Belhu, a U.S. Army Veteran, is purchasing this home, which features a progressive design and environmentally healthy building materials.

“We are all proud of the hard work of SCI-Arc faculty member Darin Johnstone, and all of the SCI-Arc students who set out to prove that design innovation can challenge the status quo of affordable housing,” said SCI-Arc Vice Director John Enright.  “SCI-Arc has always believed that design can change the world, and these students have proven that by building a house that incorporates sustainability, smart materials and novel economic building systems. To all of the volunteers, sponsors, and partners, we thank you for your support and collaboration. A house is not a home until a family inhabits it, and so to the Belhu family, without whose dedication and help with construction this project would not have been possible, we hope the house serves to be a place of love and prosperity for many years to come.”

Dubbed the IVRV House, the project champions the idea that beyond the crucial role of providing shelter, a well-designed home can help improve the lives and well-being of its residents, as well as the community beyond its walls. Located in the West Athens neighborhood of unincorporated LA County, the land for this home was transferred to Habitat LA by the LA County Community Development Commission. Additionally, the Office of LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas generously made a financial contribution toward the project.

The collaboration between SCI-Arc and Habitat LA began in 2014 in order to tackle innovative ways to redevelop neglected properties in LA and positively impact the communities they exist within. “The partnership between SCI-Arc and Habitat LA offered an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity for everyone involved,” said Program Coordinator Darin Johnstone, a design studio professor at SCI-Arc. “One of the many moments that stands out was a day near the end of construction where a group of students was working alongside the partner family to complete the ‘Eco-Screen’, an element designed to capture energy, clean the air and provide a secure, shaded outdoor space for the residents. The pride and joy shared by all was palpable. The complimentary missions of Habitat LA and SCI Arc were evident in the moment and exemplified in the place that was being created.”

Managed collaboratively, the SCI-Arc/Habitat LA Housing Project is a partnership that bridges Habitat for Humanity’s mission to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope with SCI-Arc’s mission to educate architects to engage, speculate, and innovate. Engagement with Habitat LA, residents, and the local community played a vital role in the student design and build process. The students were able to engage in a process of community-based involvement, through Habitat LA and resident input and volunteering on site that will undoubtedly have a meaningful impact on subsequent projects and the students’ future careers in architecture. 

“This partnership provided a tremendous hands-on learning experience for the architectural students, helped broaden community norms around sustainable and innovative home design for the West Athens Community, and created an attractive and affordable home for the Belhu family,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in Habitat LA’s press release. “I hope we can expand on this innovative collaboration to deliver many more attractive and affordable homes in the years to come.” 

Learn more at the project website.

About SCI-Arc

Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) is dedicated to educating architects who will imagine and shape the future. It is an independent, accredited degree-granting institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture. Located in a quarter-mile-long former freight depot in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, the school is distinguished by its vibrant studio culture and emphasis on process. SCI-Arc’s approximately 500 students and 80 faculty members, most of whom are practicing architects, work together to re-examine assumptions, create, explore and test the limits of architecture. SCI-Arc faculty and leadership have garnered more than 500 national and international design awards and recognitions, including Progressive Architecture awards, American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards, and the prestigious Jencks and Pritzker architecture prizes. SCI-Arc is ranked 1st in computer applications and 2nd in design in the 2013 America’s Best Architecture Schools survey from DesignIntelligence, and #1 graduate and undergraduate architecture school in Western U.S. SCI-Arc is located at 960 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

About Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA) brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. As the top nonprofit homebuilder in the greater Los Angeles area with five consecutive Charity Navigator 2-Star ratings, Habitat LA has partnered with volunteers, donors and Habitat homeowners to build, renovate and repair more than 1,000 homes locally and worldwide since 1990. The lives of thousands of individuals have been transformed as a result of having a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes and pay an affordable mortgage. By supporting Habitat LA through volunteerism, donations and supporting affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the stability of self-reliance they need to build a better future. To learn more, visit