Charitable gifts and grants totaling more than $6 million have fully funded the 2012 acquisition of a former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) property in Pasadena directly adjacent to Art Center’s current South Campus at 950 S. Raymond Ave.
In December The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation awarded $1 million to Art Center in support of the expansion. Additional gifts from three donors with longstanding ties to the College total $5 million. These investments will enable the College to extend its educational reach and resources and invigorate art and design education in the local area and well beyond. The expanded South Campus is expected to be ready for use by students and faculty in January 2014.
The Parsons Foundation president and CEO, Wendy Garen, explained that her organization’s philanthropic focus is to help create the best possible Los Angeles. “Art Center College of Design is both a part of the Los Angeles area and a part of the bigger world. It has impact and reach much larger than our community,” she said. “The Parsons Foundation began its grant making in 1978. Since then, we have given 5,000 grants, but only 33 of this size. These are very rare investments—our acknowledgment that the recipient institutions are really cornerstone institutions. They demonstrate excellence in all that they do.”
Art Center alumni have also responded to expansion plans in an unprecedented manner, donating $5 million for the acquisition of the new property. Donations include seven-figure gifts from: Art Center alumnus and award-winning environmental designer Richard Law MS INDU 58; alumnus and kinetic sculptor Steven Rieman PROD 74 and his wife, Ruth; and alumnus Bruce Heavin ILLU 93 and his wife, former Art Center faculty member Lynda Weinman, owners of the innovative online learning company, lynda.com.
These developments are a direct outgrowth of the five-year strategic plan, Create Change, spearheaded by Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “Building upon the unprecedented support of our alumni for the acquisition of the former USPS building, The Parsons Foundation’s grant signals to the community the growing importance of the creative professions to the economy and our world,” he says. “We are profoundly grateful to our donors and to the Foundation for sharing Art Center’s vision of exceptional art and design education.”
During Buchman’s tenure, philanthropic investments in the College have grown significantly. In this past year, the College more than doubled the average gift totals of preceding years. In late 2012, the College’s Board of Trustees renewed Buchman’s contract as President and Chief Executive Officer through 2017, citing the many significant achievements since his appointment in Fall 2009.
Editor’s note: Find out how you can support the next phase of Art Center’s expansion. Call Maya Fredrickson at 626 396-2455.
Building on deep connections forged over the past decade with some of Berlin’s leading creative agencies, educational institutions and civic leaders, Art Center College of Design’s presence in Berlin is growing.
With the completion later this year of the highly anticipated BIKINI BERLIN Living Space, Art Center will establish a permanent, year-round studio for Art Center students. Meanwhile Europe-based alumni came together for professional education workshops and a reception in June. Alumni programs and students’ project presentations are conducted in the exclusive BIKINI BERLIN showroom overlooking the center of Berlin City West.
“Berlin is a dynamic hub for global exchange and inspiration, not only for students, but also for our alumni who have become leaders and entrepreneurs in the creative industry,” says Executive Director of Berlin Programs Nik Hafermaas, graphic design chair and co-founder of the communications agency Triad Berlin. Hafermaas studied, lived and worked in Berlin for 20 years before joining Art Center in 2004, and since then has built a network of relationships across sectors—creative, business, education and government—that make Berlin a vital new satellite location for Art Center.
The 14-week Berlin transdisciplinary summer studio—this year titled Reboot Retail—once again takes 15 students beyond a traditional study abroad program to give them an immersive experience in a cutting-edge retail ecosystem. The studio is led by Environmental Design faculty memberRob Ball and students from both Environmental and Graphic Design are participating.
“At the center of a sophisticated urban redevelopment initiative, BIKINI BERLIN is a uniquely innovative, hybrid retail complex,” says David Mocarski, chair of the summer studio’s host department, Environmental Design. “It’s the perfect venue to develop new ideas that combine the best of digital, physical, media and spatial components.”
This year alumni will also be part of the mix. “Capitalizing on the extensive networks of our expert faculty and industry partners, we’re developing a series of executive education programs that will engage and benefit our mid-career alumni in whole new ways,” says Elizabeth Collins, executive director of educational partnerships, which expanded last fall to include the Office of International Exchange and Study Away. “In partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations, and with our strong, interconnected group of alumni in Europe, we believe Berlin is the perfect place to begin this series.”
Collins and Hafermaas are working with Kristine Bowne, alumni relations director, as well as department chairs and corporate and educational partners, to plan further alumni and student opportunities at BIKINI BERLIN. “New opportunities,” adds Hafermaas, “for us—and for Berliners-—to discover, engage and create change.”
Three columns leaning into one another form a tripod 16 feet tall; from its highest point a single drop of water falls into a carved-stone basin every 21 seconds, each “teardrop” representing one life lost; over the course of a year, 1.5 million tears will fall, the estimated number of victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1921.
By unanimous vote in January, at the conclusion of a two-phase competition, the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee (PASA-GMC) selected this simple yet deeply symbolic design by undergraduate Environmental Design student Catherine Menard. The public artwork, whose dedication in April 2015 will coincide with 100th anniversary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, is planned for a proposed site in Pasadena’s Memorial Park.
During a Fall 2012 intensive Designmatters studio class led by Environmental Design instructor James Meraz, six Art Center students developed memorial proposals and submitted them to the competition. Two of the tudents—Menard and her classmate J.D. Clark—were selected as finalists by PASAGMC’s independent panel of judges, an impressive achievement in a field of competitors that included many seasoned professionals.
“We were deeply impressed by Catherine, who developed and presented an emotionally compelling design for a historical event that she initially knew nothing about,” said Committee Chair William M. Paparian, an attorney and former mayor of Pasadena. “We hope that this memorial will inspire a similar emotional connection in those who encounter it, for generations to come.”
Greater Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Armenians in the United States, many descended from families persecuted and killed in the genocide. In the course of her research, Menard immersed herself in the historical accounts of the Armenian Genocide as well as the recent history of memorial art, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed by Maya Lin who, like Menard, was a student at the time she won the competition.
“At first I felt unworthy,” said Menard. “Who am I to respond to such loss? But art lends itself to the deepest, darkest parts of human experience. It can create sympathy, empathy, understanding. I wanted to pair this horror with something uplifting and beautiful, to create a way to remember.”
To reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, making cars more efficient is a top priority. New “clean engine” technology is part of the solution.
How might an engine half the size and weight of conventional motors revolutionize vehicle packaging and design? Students from Art Center and Detroit-based College for Creative Studies (CCS) took up the question with gusto in the EcoMotors Design Challenge: Reshaping the Future, a Fall 2012 sponsored project.
EcoMotors “is radically simplifying engines, leading to a footprint that is smaller and lighter than a traditional engine, but just as powerful,” Bill Gates wrote on his blog The Gates Notes. “But innovations like these are only useful if consumers want them … These bright young designers have developed cars, trucks, and other vehicles that have wide-ranging applications, from high-efficiency, high-capacity sedans to modular equipment for farmers in Southeast Asia. Most exciting to me is the fact that these students are commercializing a product that can help reduce carbon output, and reach underserved markets whose transportation options are slim.”
In its coverage of the Challenge, Car and Driver magazine showcased 23 concepts that “the feverishly creative student minds produced.” It also cited the former Big Three design chiefs who served as the competition’s judges— Ford’s Jack Telnack TRAN 58, GM’s Wayne Cherry PROD 62 and Chrysler’s Tom Gale—noting that “a more distinguished and discerning panel of judges would be hard to find.”
Among the victors in a talented field, Art Center’s Bruno Gallardo won the Silver prize for his full-size pickup truck design, and JJ Hwang took home the Bronze for his new-concept vehicle for emerging markets. James Leo Yamazaki earned an honorable mention for his mid-size passenger car design.
“We were blown away,” said Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors International. “These young designers have shown how this compact, efficient and lightweight propulsion source can, indeed, reshape the future of automotive design.”
“This innovative engine inspired concepts unlike anything we could have imagined—truly groundbreaking work,” said Transportation Design Chair Stewart Reed.
Models of the winning concept vehicles were featured last fall in Art Center's booth at the L.A. Auto Show.
“Tomorrow’s world will be designed by the design students of today—by you—and while this is a great opportunity, this is also a great challenge and a great responsibility,” Dieter Rams told graduating Art Center students during the 2013 Spring graduation ceremony on April 20.
Generations of designers have been inspired by Rams’ work. As chief of design at Braun from 1961 until retiring in 1997, Rams was responsible for innovative design in radios, record players, watches, coffee makers, shavers and other objects that continue to influence functionality and aesthetics in many of today’s most popular products. Apple's head designer Jonathan Ive said Apple products could be seen as an homage to Rams, who created “surfaces that were without apology, bold, pure, perfectly proportioned, coherent and effortless.”
In a large white tent under clear and sunny skies, Rams was warmly introduced by Product Design Chair Karen Hofmann and accepted an honorary doctorate of arts from Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. In his address, delivered in German and translated live by an interpreter, Rams thoughtfully reflected on his past, sharing lessons gleaned over a long and influential career as both a designer and an educator, while also voicing concerns about the future.
“Today’s main challenges are the protection of the natural environment and overcoming mindless consumption,” he said, urging graduates toward “a design ethos that goes way beyond complacency and arbitrariness.”
For Rams, the very meaning of design is at stake. “The word ‘design’ is increasingly associated with a growth-oriented consumer society,” he observed. “Instead of being degraded to a lifestyle term, I wish for [it] to stand for something that really helps human beings come to grips with our world, to get along with each other and also to better our environment. We want to contribute to the preservation of this planet. In addition, there is a very urgent and necessary need to minimize the physical and visual pollution. It makes a huge difference if we use our products for one year, five years or 10. That’s why we need less and less products whose manufacture or use squanders resources or whose existence harms the environment.”
Good design, he reiterated, is as little design as possible. “We want to go back to the pure and to the simple. And simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
He presented five essential dimensions of design—functional, communicative, aesthetic, temporal and ecological—along with his formula for sustainable production: “Less but better! Much, much less, and much, much better.“
And he concluded with the famous precept attributed to Mahatma Gandhi,“We must be the change we want to see in the world.”
Last October, the day before Art Center’s annual Car Classic, the College hosted Art Center Insights, a special opportunity for invited guests to get a behind-the-scenes look at the special brand of design thinking happening inside the classroom. To pair nicely with Car Classic, Insights presented discussions and workshops revolving around the past, present and future of transportation.
Graduate Transportation Design Department Executive Director Geoff Wardle moderated “Transportation Solutions for the 21st Century.” Guests included: Clay Dean, chief designer at GM Global Advanced Design; Graduate Industrial Design alumna Magdalena Paluch, trends and innovation strategist at Toyota; and Claude Willey, urban development educator at California State University, Northridge.
Product Design Chair Karen Hofmann and Graphic Design Chair Nik Hafermaas led “From Rockets to Rails: Mobility Trends Beyond the Automobile,” a workshop with guests Miguel Galluzzi TRAN 86, vice president of design, Piaggio; Dan Goods GRPK 02, visual strategist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and John Ziemer, JPL’s concept innovation methods chief.
“Between Art Center, Caltech and JPL, you have so many people here who think in different ways,” Galluzzi said of Pasadena, which he chose as the future site of Piaggio’s Advanced Design Center. “And then you can get all these minds together and create new things. That is what makes this city unique.”
Transportation Design Chair Stewart Reed moderated “From the Runway to the Road: the Genesis of Racing Cars,” whose guests included Edward Justice, Jr., president/CEO, Justice Brothers; Peter Brock PROD 56, president/CEO, Brock Racing Enterprises; and Trevor Harris, CEO, Harris Dynamics.
The event concluded with “Motor Magic: How Concept Designers and Builders Bring Hollywood Cars to Life,” a panel moderated by Entertainment Design Chair Tim Flattery, whose guests included: Syd Mead TRAN 59, futurist and creator of the Blade Runner spinner car; Harald Belker TRAN 90, designer of the Mag-Lev vehicle in Minority Report; and George Barris, designer of the Batmobile for TV’s Batman.
For her steadfast advocacy of visual and performing arts in Los Angeles, Art Center Trustee Alyce de Roulet Williamson was named 2012 Outstanding Philanthropist during the annual celebration of National Philanthropy Day sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Professional Fundraisers. More than 400 guests attended the Nov. 14 awards luncheon at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Alyce has dedicated herself to some of the most vital organizations serving the community, including, for nearly 30 years, Art Center College of Design,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Robert C. Davidson, Jr. “From the beginning of her involvement with the College, she has keenly understood and promoted Art Center’s commitment to empowering extraordinary talent and nurturing creative leaders who make the world a better place.”
Williamson is founding Chair of Art Center 100, established in 1986 as a community support group for student scholarships, and in 1992 she oversaw and funded the creation of a public gallery space at Art Center’s Hillside Campus. Beyond Art Center, she is a Trustee Emerita of her alma mater, Scripps College, and currently serves on the boards of the the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. She is also a board member of the Los Angeles Opera, the Music Center, the Center Dance Association, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She is a past board member of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops.
Among the many friends and colleagues who came out to honor her at the event were Art Center Trustees Wesley Coleman and Jeffrey Glassman, President Lorne M. Buchman and Film Chair Ross LaManna. Williamson accepted the award by quoting St. Francis of Assisi: “It is in giving that we receive.”