On Sunday, September 9, three SCI-Arc graduates received the first Woods Bagot Prize—a USD$20,000 award for each individual—which recognizes the top design portfolios and academic achievements from students in the undergraduate and graduate programs Additionally, the prize-winners were offered a position at any of the international firm’s 15 studios.
The inaugural prize-winners were graduate students Mikiko Takasago from Japan, M. Arch 1, José Carlos García, from Mexico M. Arch 2, and undergraduate Luciano Menghini, B. Arch from Italy, who were selected out of a pool of over 50 applicants at the Los Angeles institution. Woods Bagot Director of North America Patrick Daly, AIA, announced the winners during SCI-Arc’s September 9 commencement, which traditionally takes place at the end of the summer to generate excitement for the oncoming school year. Winners names and the prize amount were kept secret until they were announced during the ceremony. Nina Hachigian, the City of Los Angeles’ first Deputy Mayor of International Affairs, acted as the keynote speaker at the event.
The thesis reviews for the M. Arch 1 and M. Arch 2 programs—the former being a multidisciplinary approach open to students with a Bachelor’s degree in any field of study while the latter is more focused on B. Arch holders—took place over three days before the ceremony. Several local and international architects, as well as Daly, participated in the critiques. Undergraduate theses were presented in April, and those students returned to SCI-Arc on September 9 for the ceremony. The two graduate theses varied widely in form and execution but served everyday purposes for their users and ultimately added to the “collective conversation,” according to the ceremony’s program. García’s thesis, “Intense Relations,” was an exploration in commercial architecture and how orthographic projection is a key representation of this typology. Taking a further departure from more commonplace architecture, Takasago’s thesis, “No Thing,” takes form as an indefinite, grey zone that would serve as the student’s tomb in the year 2088.
Menghini’s undergraduate thesis was a project for The Museum of the Twentieth Century in the Berlin Kulturforum which investigated the corridor typology and reconfigured the classical enfilade organization of a museum. The result is a diverse configuration of corridors that allows visitors to not only see the museum’s exhibitions but appreciate the building as well. Menghini is also a recipient of the school’s Graduate Thesis Merit Award.
Woods Bagot created the Woods Bagot Prize to support SCI-Arc in preparing the next generation to push the boundaries of architecture. The firm and SCI-Arc have been engaged in a working relationship since hosting LA 3.0: Development and Design for the New Los Angeles, a half-day conference that considered the infrastructural, architecture, and transportation issues specific to Los Angeles.