Architectural critic and theorist Jeff Kipnis at SCI-Arc’s LA campus

Distinguishing between architecture and art today is a challenging task, particularly when faced with countless tropes supplied by popular culture. Exploring the boundary between the two is a creative endeavor that the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) takes on, where every student project challenges a distinction even further.

This is by design. Since its founding in the early 70’s, SCI-Arc has expanded the limits of the architectural field, redefining the relationship between art and architecture by exposing students to the very movers and shakers of these disciplines.

On November 20th, architectural critic and theorist Jeff Kipnis lectured at the LA campus demystifying this link by discussing the work of Cindy Sherman and Rem Koolhaas, titans of art and architecture, respectively. Kipnis connects the two bodies of work through their attitude toward the contemporary condition of authorship. Both Sherman and Koolhaas divorce content from meaning and explore the sign in and of itself as design material. For Koolhaas this material was the built work of his architectural contemporaries and for Sherman it was the female image as a character. Each absorbs and then rebroadcasts contemporary life and material culture, thereby catalyzing its continuous evolution. But, as Kipnis explained, while the two are intrinsically linked, their individual work contains irreducible effects specific to their discipline.

Kipnis’ lecture as well as a collection of lectures held at SCI-Arc since 1976 can be accessed through the SCI-Arc Media Archive.

The school regularly welcomes speakers from all over the world, working in a wide range of creative disciplines to engage students and the community at large during its public lectures. Interviews and previews with guests are showcased on SCI-Arc Channel.

An updated schedule can be found at

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