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Motopia: A New Age for Modular Construction

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Published on Nov 18, 2011

"The language of design, architecture and urbanism in Los Angeles is the language of movement." -- Rayner Banham

Architecture today rolls, flows, inflates, breathes, expands, multiplies and contracts, and searches for its next user. And yet, such architecture is not merely building or product design, but rather recognition of the fluidity of circumstances - the mobility of demographics and information. As the discipline of architecture maintains an increasing capacity to respond to this fluidity, the one-day symposium will enable USC students to engage with real world practitioners and multi-disciplinary scholars who are crafting experiments to prepare for a future continuously on the move. Motopia: A New Age for Modular Construction, organized by local architect and USC visiting professor Jennifer Siegal, will bring together a range of creative forces behind mobile architecture including architects, educators, theorists, museum curators and writers.

As an active practitioner, Jennifer Siegal is constantly engaged in the design of non-permanently sited structures. This conference will serve as both a continuation of her own research as well as advance the design education of USC students. It will examine solutions to current economic, social and environmental concerns in the housing industry, identify emerging technologies and trends, and synthesize recent advancements in design, manufacturing, materials, processes and systems. We will host five eminent practitioners who will discuss strategies that can be adopted or adapted into our own larger communities and lives. Participants include: Allison Arieff, Editor at Large, GOOD and Contributing Columnist, The New York Times; Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art; Stephen Kieran, Partner, KieranTimberlake; Robert Kronenburg, Architect, Author and Roscoe Chair of Architecture, University of Liverpool; and Michael Webb, Founding Member, Archigram and Professor at Cooper Union.

USC serves as the ideal location for such an event. Los Angeles comprises a widely varied series of cultural, geographic and topographic conditions; flexible structures that mimic, depend upon, and take advantage of these conditions hold an atypical authenticity within the context of Southern California. The responsibility of the University to the larger environment and surrounding communities is manifested already in the great investment into the USC's "Sustainable Cities," program, Provost Nikias' "Future Fuels and Energy Initiative," "Urban Issues Initiative," University-subsidized public transportation as well as through other waste-reduction programs.

Visions and Voices is a university-wide arts and humanities initiative unparalleled in higher education. The initiative was established by Provost C. L. Max Nikias in order to fulfill the goals set forth in USC's strategic plan; to communicate USC's core values to students; and to affirm the human spirit. Highlighting USC's excellence in the arts and humanities, the initiative provides a unique, inspiring and provocative experience for all USC students, regardless of discipline, and challenges them to become world-class citizens who will eagerly make a positive impact throughout the world.

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