Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Los Angeles

Since its the summer break, I've had a bit of time to Explore Los Angeles. Its an amazing city with a lot of beautiful places to visit.

According to the Urban Systems class I took in Fall 2011 Los Angeles is the first city in the US that was designed around the automobile. This meant that the city is very wide spread and a lot of people live in the suburbs. Also its a decentralized city, meaning contrary to most of the major cities in the world today, downtown LA is not as important for the city of LA. Most businesses are spread through-out the county and the public transportation system is not as dynamic as NYC or Chicago. Downtown LA is pretty small and is unglamorous than expected for the most part.

LA depends on the existence of a large network of freeways. Infamous LA traffic is personally a huge turnoff for me but without them I would not be able to get anywhere. Thankfully, on a daily basis I don't have to deal with highway rush-hour traffic. 

LA also used to have quite an extensive trolley system owned by various private companies. You can still see the trolley rails in various places downtown. During the past 20 - 30 years, Downtown LA has experienced major clean up and growth. LA live project revitalized the area and today downtown LA is home to many luxuary hotels, condos and apartment complexes. 

If you are visiting downtown LA, there are a few places you should definitely check out. 

LA Live is a huge tourist attractions in downtown. I haven't gone to many of the restaurants, the Staples center, many clubs, etc there simply because I'm taking it for granted that I live practically a few blocks away from it.

For art lovers there are a few awesome places one must visit. MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is probably the most important museum in Downtown LA. LA Arts district also has many artist studios, galleries and lots of wonderful street art. 

Other museums in Los Angeles include Wells Fargo History Museum, The Garmmy Museum at LA Live, and The Japanese American National Museum

Also make sure to visit Little Tokyo and China town. You will be able to experience the Japanese and the Chinese culture, food, clothing and life-style in these areas.

Unless if you want to see the largest stable population of homeless community in the US, I would strongly advise you to avoid Skid Row area. Its sad that in a wonderful city of wealth and lovely culture, there are so much poverty and homelessness only blocks away from the fancy neighborhoods. 

Moving away from Downtown LA, there are many wonderful places to visit such as the Getty Center, Getty Villa, Santa Monica Pier, The Griffith Observatory, LACMA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc. 

I will try to do an article about places of Architectural importance in LA as well as about other touristy places. Keep visiting the blog.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thom Mayne Lecture: What's next?

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Thom Mayne lectured at SCI-Arc on March 14, 2012.

This lecture was part of the wonderful series of lectures that happens every semester at SCI-arc. It was also a continuation of the dialog opened up after the Eisenman lecture.

 Thom Mayne @ SCI-Arc. 03-14-2012. (c) Manori Sumanasinghe

Click on this link to watch the video:


The videos is a part of the SCI-Arc public lecture archive

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Student Tips: Model making with Styrene

I used styrene to make a 1/4" scale model for the first time.

  • Very easy to use in terms of score it, fold it along the crease in the opposite direction and it snaps out. Compared to acrylic, this is super easy to cut. 
  • Also gives you nice clean edges. 
  • Also much easier to glue than acrylic. 
  • Much cheaper than acrylic. I was able to purchase a 1/16" thick 4' x 6' (48" x 96") sheet for $ 30 tax included.

  • Can't laser cut, it melts. Scoring is possible and snaps off pretty easily after scoring 
  • I still haven't mastered the art of gluing it neat. I have to use gloves when I use the plastic welden and I leave smudge marks that catches dust so that makes it pretty undesirable. 
  • If you were sensitive like me, all the glues I've tried so far that work with styrene gives allergies.

Types of glue to use: Plastic Weldene, Locktite.

  • If you have access to a laser cutter, score all the line work.  Use a mask when laser scoring styrene. The burn fumes are pretty toxic.
  • Make a jig (a contraption that helps you maintain consistency and control quality) 
  • Use little glue
  • Definitely wear a mask (a respirator recommended). Weather you use the toxic or the non-toxic glue types they all are very strong in smell and the vapor causes breathing trouble.
  • Work in a well ventilated area. 
 Using a jig to make a floor plate using styrene - (c) Manori Sumanasinghe 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jeff Kipnis Lecture @ SCI Arc

Jeff Kipnis lectured at SCI-Arc the following day of the Eisenman Lecture. I loved Kipnis's lectures because they are engaging, its an on going conversation.

Jeff Kipins Lecture @ SCI-Arc. 03-06-2012. (c) Manori Sumanasinghe

I still haven't figured out how to embed the archive videos in my blog post. Please bare with me until then and use the link below to watch the video.


He like the way he defined the difference between the East Coast school of thought vs. West Coast school of thought, which in his theory was the reason why Eisenman made the statement about how architecture cannot respond to social, economical and political situations.

Enjoy the video and stay tuned for the Thom Mayne lecture. I will post it as soon as it becomes available on the SCI-Arc website.

The videos is a part of the SCI-Arc public lecture archive.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lecture by Peter Eisenman at SCI-Arc

I have the urge to apologize to you for not posting frequently enough. But then again, if you study architecture or know anything about the education of an architect you will understand therefore, forgive me for my not-very-frequent presence in the blogosphere. I am sorry and I will try my best to post more.....

We recently had Peter Eisenman Lecturing at SCI-Arc. I had the privilege to watch one of the reviews he took part, his lecture the same day evening and the Graduate Thesis Symposium the next day.

Eric Owen Moss Introducing Peter Eisenman @ SCI-Arc. 03-05-2012. (c) Manori Sumanasinghe

Graduate Thesis Symposium with (from left) Elena Manfredini, Hernan Alonso Diaz, Jeff Kipnis, Peter Eisenman, and Eric Owne Moss @ SCI-Arc. 03-06-2012. (c) Manori Sumanasinghe

Peter Eisenman, no doubt one of the most admired architects today, raised quite a debate during his lecture.

You can watch the lecture here:

He did confuse the audience quite a bit with the project vs. practice theory.

To paraphrase him "Architecture does not respond to social or political situations"... What do you think? I want to side with Moss, Mayne and Kipnis on this issue. Not because I admire them or they are attached to our school, but because my personal conviction is that architecture do impact people and architecture has the ability to reach out to people. See, I think that solutions for most of the social, political, and economical issues that are present in the world today can be found by addressing the problems from many angles. We live in a world today that everything is interconnected. Nothing exists in its singularity, on its own. The problems of the society themselves are a result of failure of many things rather than just a singular incident. Therefore the solutions should also be comprehensive and integral. I feel that architecture provides and opportunity to address these problems and is one of the many aspects of society that should contribute to the improvement of the overall human development. This is a topic I would like to discuss further as I go along. I would like to invite you to start a conversation with me on this ....

Following this lecture, the next day was the Graduate Thesis Symposium. The panel included Mr. Eisenman, Architecture critic Jeff Kipnis, SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss, SCI-Arc Grad Director Hernan Diaz Alonso and Faculty Elena Manfredini. I hope SCI-Arc post that video as well because it was a great follow up to the debate and the topics discussed at the lecture the day before.

We had Jeff Kipnis lecturing the next day so stay tuned to that video link because his lecture took the debate a bit further and next week's lecture is one of my favorite architects Thom Mayne and I will post the links when they become available.

All the videos are a part of the SCI-Arc public lecture archive.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Some thoughts....

The past 1/2 year has been very strange. I moved city, lived apart from my husband the longest, getting used to a new school and its culture, and I've learnt so much.

SCI-Arc was intimidating at first. I must confess, it still scares me a bit. So much knowledge floating around, so much to learn, I feel inadequate sometimes. But this same sense of insecurity motivates me to learn more.

The caliber of people at SCI-Arc, be it the faculty, students, staff or administration continues to amaze me though. I feel like I am at a unique place among unique people doing the strangest and most wonderful things. Its crazy and I love it!!

Of course, I must confess yet again, I don't always love it. I hate it that I have to be away from my husband, I am not please I don't have time for pretty much anything else other than school, definitely not please we have poor indoor air quality at the school and that we don't have any plants. I miss that a lot - plants! I miss trees, plants, rivers and fish and the crazy colorful lizards and iguanas and beautiful birds... All that was amazing about the east coast. I think California has most of these things but I dislike that I have no time to see any of it. I miss having time to play with my cat!! But then again these sacrifices, I know are totally worth it...

I still manage to find time to go volunteer a few hours every week. I sometimes wonder, do I manage time poorly? Other times I think we have wayyyyyy too much work. Maybe the reality is something in between.

I disagree that while in school we should be all consumed by education and education only. I believe that college / university education should be in preparation to the real world out there. Not only give us the skills, horn in new skills but also prepare us to manage a balanced life. So far the way I've experienced architecture school is not that but then again, considering how much is there to be learnt in architecture its amazing that the B. Arch can be completed in 5 yrs...!!