Canadian Architect


Michael Maltzan Architecture: The Dark Side of the Moon

August 31, 2007
by Canadian Architect

From October 19 to December 9, 2007, the SCI-Arc Gallery presents The Dark Side of the Moon, a new site-specific installation by Los Angeles-based firm Michael Maltzan Architecture. This installation introduces a new threshold in the gallery, creating a space between two worlds that provokes interaction and a simultaneous experience for, and between, those who visit.

As viewers enter the gallery, a surface descends above them, arcing across the entirety of the 1400+ square foot space and gradually bending toward the gallery floor. Expanding the role that this “fifth facade” has played in Michael Maltzan Architecture’s recent projects, the exhibition transforms the soffit of the gallery into unique space by positioning the structure above the gallery walls rather than within them.

Above this figured space, the smooth, curving form meets visitors, encouraging them to engage the installation directly. The surface widens at its lowest points, allowing visitors to lift their head and shoulders through this threshold into a new sphere above where they discover a new space – and sometimes each other – in an unexpected, shared experience. In this way, the installation creates a moment of intense simultaneity: visitors find themselves in two spaces at once, yet neither fully in one or the other. Extending the experience of simultaneity that is so important in the practice’s work, this barrier at the center of the gallery creates a new, unified space, its curvilinear form highlighting the relationship between built form and the viewer – in a collective sense, not a singular one.

Established in 1995, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc. (MMA) has designed projects including Inner-City Arts, the Feldman-Horn Center for the Arts, the Getty Information Institute Digital Laboratory, and MoMA QNS. The practice has recently completed the Kidspace Children’s Museum, Skid Row Housing’s Rainbow Apartments, the UCLA Hammer Museum Billy Wilder Theater, and Ministructure No. 16 / Book Bar in Jinhua, China. Projects currently underway include the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, the New Carver Apartments, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s new Administration and Education Complex. The practice has recently won three international competitions for the Giardini di Porta Nuova and the Pirelli RE Headquarters in Milan and the Los Angeles State Historical Park and Interpretive Centers.

The practice has been featured in publications including Architecture, Architectural Record, Architektur.Aktuell, Artforum, A+U, Domus, GA, Lotus, Phaidon Press’s 10×10, Newsweek, and The New York Times. Monographic exhibitions of the firm’s work were held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2003 and at the Carnegie Museum’s Heinz Architectural Center in 2005.

Since 2002, the SCI-Arc Gallery has invited internationally recognized architects to fabricate and install site-specific installations with a team of SCI-Arc students. Exhibitions are open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. All SCI-Arc events are free and open to the public. SCI-Arc is located at 960 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. For additional programming information, please visit or call 213.613.2200 x328.

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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