This summer in Los Angeles, “Machining Adaptive Living”—a visiting school program from the London-based Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA)—will convene at University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. Led by Alvin Huang, AIA, and Kevin Patrick McClellan—themselves alumni of, and former classmates at, the AA—the two week intensive program invites participants to rethink topics of the Case Study House Program introduced by Arts & Architecture magazine editors John Entenza and David Travers in 1945.
As part of the AA’s mission to operate as an international open forum, the school has run several years’ worth of pop-up schools around the world. Although the AA has held these visiting programs in the U.S. before as recently as last year, “Machining Adaptive Living” marks the first in Los Angeles, home to the bulk of the Case Study houses. “We’re trying to hinge the program on what we feel is the essence of L.A. architecture, which is the Case Study movement,” Huang says. “We’ll explore a contemporary take on it with contemporary methodology and design tools.” Huang, founder of Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design, also holds a tenure-track position as a professor of architecture at USC.
Using USC’s architecture studio facilities, students will break into clusters, with each cluster exploring a different aspect of the house through full-scale mockups, drawings, and digitally-fabricated pieces during a ten-day design charrette. The resulting experimentations will be on display at an exhibition at the historic Bradbury Building during L.A.’s Design Week. Huang’s cluster, which he will co-teach with Kevin McClellan, will focus on the butterfly roof, made famous by William Krisel in development houses in Palm Springs, as an organizer within the home. Instructor Jenny Wu—a teacher at SCI-Arc and co-founder of local firm Oyler Wu Collaborative—will investigate the topic of the hallway as a grid generator, while instructor Adam Marcus, AIA—director of Oakland, Calif.-based design and research office Variable Projects—will look at the performative partition.
In addition to the design studios, the visiting school will also feature site visits to local examples of the Case Study houses, lectures by renowned practitioners, and a design writing component taught by program coordinator Danielle Rago. Rago, also an alumna of the AA, and co-curator of a traveling, serial exhibition entitled “On the Road,” describes the writing portion of the program as “looking at the historical narrative of the program to pair it with current architectural practice.” Nearly 70 years after the Case Study houses were initiated, experimentation with the notion of the single-family home is still relevant, and the program will investigate how current and future dwellings can carry out the tenets of modernism through digital fabrication.
The visting school program will also feature a series of lectures by local architects (which will be open to the public), including
• Marc Fornes (TheVeryMany)
• Tom Wiscombe, AIA (Tom Wiscombe Design)
• Heather Roberge (murmur)
• Neil Denari, AIA (NMDA)
The AA runs more than 50 visiting school programs per year scattered around the world, including four in the United States this year. Notable alumni of the AA include Ben van Berkel, Hon. FAIA, Nicholas Grimshaw, Steven Holl, FAIA, and Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA, with faculty ranging from David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, to Alejandro Zaera-Polo.
Registration for the program, which runs from June 16-27, will close June 1. For more information, please visit losangeles.aaschool.ac.uk