We have, for a long time, observed with interest the shifting relationships between the university and architectural practice.  In some ways, the two domains are separate and distinct and operate under very different expectations and goal structures.  Conversely, in other ways, they are related in that they involve many of the same people, many of the same terms (although these terms can carry different meanings) and, of course, there is the normal chronology which finds most architects moving over time from the academy to some form of practice.

This series of conversations we’re calling "What’s Where? Academia + Practice" invites the heads of architectural programs in the Los Angeles region to examine the relationship between academia and practice, using these two terms in the very broadest sense.  What’s Where?  as a title is intended to suggest notions of shifting territories and prompts questions of which parts of the architectural universe are found within the academy and which parts are found in practice, and, of course, which parts overlap, are missing, are redefined, are contested, are whatever.

Here you will find an archive of our series of five conversations with the heads of Los Angeles’ university architecture programs.

Summer 2013


Moderated by Scott Johnson, FAIA - Design Partner, Johnson Fain & 2013 AIA|LA President

Michael Woo, Hon. AIA|LA - Dean, College of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona

Michael Woo brings a unique background in public service, community involvement, and urban planning to his role as Dean of the College of Environmental Design. He was the first trained urban planner and the first Asian American elected to serve on the Los Angeles City Council. Representing a diverse constituency of 235,000 people in Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods, Dean Woo spearheaded the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan, which laid the groundwork for Hollywood's current revitalization; played a key role in choosing the route and station locations of the Metro Red Line subway; and made decisions on numerous development proposals and neighborhood controversies. He gave up his Council seat after eight years to become one of 24 candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, ultimately receiving 46 percent of the citywide vote and a second-place finish in the citywide run-off election.

In 2005, Dean Woo was appointed to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. He chairs the national board of directors of Smart Growth America, the national coalition advocating compact development patterns and sustainable transportation choices; the governing board of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center; and the board of directors of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), the nonprofit organization which runs the Hollywood Farmers Market, the largest certified farmers market in the City of Los Angeles, which he helped to establish 19 years ago when he was a Councilman.
Reflecting his growing interest in the relationship between climate change and environmental design, Woo's recent special assignments include an appointment from the California Air Resources Board to the Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC), and an invitation from the Urban Land Institute to co-chair a study panel on the economic impacts of Senate Bill 375.
A native of Los Angeles, Woo received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned his Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Before becoming Dean of ENV, Woo taught the undergraduate introduction to urban planning and development at USC for seven years and led a seminar at UCLA on urbanization in China.

Sarah Lorenzen - Chair, Department of Architecture, Cal Poly Pomona

Sarah Lorenzen is a registered architect, Associate Professor and Chair of the Architecture Department at Cal Poly Pomona. Since 2007 she has also been the resident director of the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences. In 2004 Sarah co-founded multimedia design firm Plasmatic Concepts with partner David Hartwell. Their design practice emphasizes the use of creative communication devices: films, animations, and interactive apps to engage the public on issues related to the built environment. Recent projects include a video installation on the architecture of Don Wexler at the Palm Springs Museum, a 30-minute documentary film about the Los Angeles River funded by the Graham Foundation, a motion graphics piece about Informal Urbanism in Mexico City for the Rotterdam Biennale, and a temporary pavilion for the AEC Expo in Mumbai, India.

Eric Owen Moss, FAIA - Director, SCI-Arc

Eric Owen Moss was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1965. He holds Masters degrees in Architecture from both the University of California at Berkeley, College of Environmental Design (1968) and Harvard University Graduate School of Design (1972).

Eric Owen Moss Architects was founded in 1973. The office, located in Los Angeles, is currently staffed with twenty-five professionals designing and constructing projects in the United States and around the world. The firm has garnered over sixty design awards from Progressive Architecture magazine and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Moss was honored with the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999. He received the AIA/LA Gold Medal in 2001. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architecture and was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. In 2007, he received the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, recognizing a distinguished history of architectural design, and in 2011 he was awarded the Jencks Award by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

There are ten published monographs on the Eric Owen Moss office, including three by Rizzoli and one, Gnostic Architecture by Monacelli Press. Most recent areEric Owen Moss - The Uncertainty of Doing, published by Skira in 2006; Eric Owen Moss - Provisional Paradigms, published by Marsilio in 2007; and Eric Owen Moss - Construction Manual (1988-2008), published in 2009.

Moss continues to build, teach, lecture and exhibit. In 2002, the firm won two competitions in St. Petersburg, Russia, one for the New Mariinsky Theatre, the second for the redevelopment of New Holland. In 2003, Eric Owen Moss Architects won the international competition for the Queens Museum of Art in New York. In 2006, they won the Future Cities competition - LA, NY, Chicago, sponsored by the History Channel. The firm has featured regularly at the Venice Biennale, with exhibits that have included the controversial proposal for the New Mariinsky at the Russian Pavilion in 2002, and the international competition entries for the National Library in Mexico City and the Smithsonian Institute in 2004. In 2006, the firm exhibited the Los Angeles/Culver City project in the Cities, Architecture, and Society section. In 2010, Moss became the first foreign architect invited to curate a national pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Eric Owen Moss first taught at SCI-Arc in 1974, and was appointed director in 2002. He has held chairs at Yale and Harvard universities, and appointments at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna and the Royal Academy in Copenhagen.

Qingyun Ma - Dean, Della & Harry MacDonald Chair - USC, School of Architecture

Qingyun Ma is a designer and educator.  Named one of the world’s most influential designers byBusinessWeek, Ma’s experience and involvement on an international level make him a leader in the design community with a great understanding of the contemporary issues in global urbanization.

Ma earned his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in Architecture from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1988, and in 1991, he received his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.  Through his academic and professional experience, he developed a keen business sense centered on design intelligence, which culminated in his establishment of MADA s.p.a.m in 1996.  MADA s.p.a.m. has designed and built modern buildings and urban communities, garnering worldwide recognition.  Ma was the chief curator of the 2007 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale, and he is frequently invited as a speaker and juror, including for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the prestigious Rome Prize, and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

In 2007, Ma became the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, where he has enhanced the program by developing the School’s ties with China and launching a number of global initiatives, particularly the USC American Academy in China, a base for visiting scholars to facilitate their research and foster academic exchange.

Hitoshi Abe - Chair, Professor - UCLA, Architecture & Urban Design

Since 1992, when Dr. Hitoshi Abe won first prize in the Miyagi Stadium competition, he has maintained an active international design practice based in Sendai, Japan, and Los Angeles, as well as a schedule of lecturing and publishing, which placed him among the leaders in his field. Known for architecture that is spatially complex and structurally innovative, the work of Atelier Hitoshi Abe has been published internationally and received numerous awards in Japan and internationally, including the 2011 Japan Society for Finishing Technology Award for the F-town building, 2009 Contractworld Award for Aoba-tei, 2009 Architectural Institute of Japan Award for the K-Museum, 2009 the Architectural Institute of Japan Education Award, 2008 SIA-Getz Prize for Emergent Architecture in Asia, the 2007 World Architecture Award for M/Kanno Museum, the 2005 Good Design Award for Sasaki Office Factory for Prosthetics, the 2003 Architectural Institute of Japan Award for Reihoku Community Hall, 2003 Business Week and Architectural Record Award for Sekii Ladies Clinic, 2001 Building Contractors Society Award for Miyagi Stadium, and 1999 Yoshioka Award for Yomiuri Media Miyagi Guest House. Principal of his own firm, he worked with Coop Himmelblau in Los Angeles from 1988 -1992 before founding Atelier Hitoshi Abe in 1993 in Sendai, Japan. He recently opened a second office in Los Angeles, to work on a series of projects outside of Japan including invited competitions and an exhibition installation.  

Some of his key projects located in Japan include the Aoba-tei restaurant, the Sasaki Office Factory for Prosthetics, F-town, which is an eat-and-drink building filled with bars and restaurants in Sendai, the Miyagi Stadium in Rifu, SSM/Kanno Museum in Shiogama, the 9-tsubo House "Tall" in Kanagawa, and the Reihoku Community Hall in Kumamoto.

A monograph Hitoshi Abe Flicker (TOTO) accompanied an exhibition of his work at the Gallery MA in Tokyo in 2005. He is the subject of the Phaidon Press monograph Hitoshi Abe released in 2009. Dr. Abe has a decade-long distinguished career as a leader in education, which began at the Tohoku Institute of Technology (Sendai, Japan) where he taught from 1994 to 2007. He was the Friedman Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. At Tohoku University, Dr. Abe served as Professor in charge of the Architecture and Urban Design Laboratory and Director of the Architectural Design Education Committee, where he established an international network of architectural training, offering workshops and exchange programs with several foreign universities. Dr. Abe earned his M.Arch. from SCI-ARC in Los Angeles in 1988, and his Ph.D. from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan in 1993.  In 2007, he was appointed professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design. In 2010, he was appointed Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Chair in the Study of Contemporary Japan as well as Director of the UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies. New projects include a new departmental building for the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Vienna, Austria and a duplex, Hotlinks, for Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation in the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. In 2010, SCI-ARC featured an exhibition on the work of Atelier Hitoshi Abe entitled len-tic-u-lar-is.  In 2011 he served as director of the Little Tokyo Design Week Los Angeles and served as director at large for the International Architectural Education Summit (IAES) held in Madrid.

Norman Millar, AIA - Dean, Woodbury University, School of Architecture

Norman Millar is an educator and practicing architect.  He has been a registered architect since 1983, licensed to practice architecture in California, Washington and Hawaii.  He established his Los Angeles practice, Norman Millar Architects, in 1985.  His work has been widely published and awarded.  He has led the growth the architecture programs at Woodbury University since 1999 during which time enrollment has nearly tripled in size and several new graduate programs have been established.  Prior to joining Woodbury, he taught at several Los Angeles institutions including the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), USC, Pasadena Art Center, and UCLA.

In 2006 on sabbatical leave, he earned a Certificate from The Ross Minority Program in Real Estate at the Lusk Center for Real Estate in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California (2006).  Norman has served as an accreditation team member on several NAAB accreditation visits.  He is a regent for the California Architectural Foundation.  He also serves on theHollywood Design Review Advisory Board, the advisory board for the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, and the board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIA.

Norman’s academic interests are in the areas of critical practice, alternative practice and urban forestry, and everyday urbanism.  Many of his critical essays have been published; including one on the plight of Los Angeles street venders, which was included in Everyday Urbanism, edited by Margaret Crawford, John Chase, and John Kaliski and published by Monacelli Press of New York in 1999 and again in 2009.

Scott Johnson, FAIA - Design Partner, Johnson Fain & 2013 AIA|LA President

One of the most highly regarded architects in California, Scott Johnson is also one of the few architects who is well-known to the general public and the design profession alike.  A prolific designer of residential, commercial and institutional building projects, a number of his best known designs have been widely published and have become local landmarks, including three high rise buildings in Century City, California, the Opus One and Byron Wineries in the Napa Valley and Santa Barbara County, respectively, Rincon Center in San Francisco, and the Capitol Area East End Complex in Sacramento.

Born in California and educated at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley (AB in Architecture) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Master in Architecture), Johnson worked variously at The Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, Mass, the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices of Skidmore Owings Merrill and the office of Philip Johnson and John Burgee in New York City.  For the latter firm, he served as Design Associate for some of Johnson Burgee's most notable projects, including the Dade County Cultural Center, Houston's Republic Bank Center, 33 Maiden Lane, 885 Third Avenue in New York City, and the Times Square Renewal project.  During his tenure there, Scott Johnson also served as an assistant to Arthur Drexler in curating the 'Three Skyscrapers' exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1981).

Joining Pereira Associates in Los Angeles in 1983 as Principal and Design Director, he and William Fain acquired the firm now known as Johnson Fain in 1987. In addition to designing nearly 100 built projects in the past 20 years, Johnson has also taught and lectured at various universities.  He served as Director of the Master of Architecture Programs at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture from 2004 through 2007.  He is the author of the recent The Big Idea: Criticality and Practice in Contemporary Architecture, Tall Building: Imagining the Skyscraper, as well as Tectonics of Place: The Architecture of Johnson Fain.

As Design Partner, Mr. Johnson is responsible for the direction and quality of the firm's architectural and interior design projects.


Last updated: 24-Sep-2013 12:55 PM
Share Share