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Nearly five months have passed since the tumultuous March 25 Basecamp panel discussion and the wave of controversies that came after. While the LA-based architecture school has slowly faded from heavy media reporting, the team at Archinect has kept an eye out for any updates and changes coming from the school. 

However, recent news from the school sent out via email to the SCI-Arc Community has announced essential policy changes AND the resignations of Tom Wiscombe and Marrikka Trotter, who have received intense heat from students, alums, and the architecture community at large. 

Related on Archinect: Controversy at SCI-Arc over labor practices leads to faculty members placed on leave. Isolated incident or a wake up call for the industry at large?

Our April 7 coverage reported on a slew of petitions, news of third-party internal investigations, public “apologies,” new faculty appointments, and responses from the community. At that point, only time would tell how the school of “architectural thinking” could rebound and redirect its internal structures. However, as their school motto suggests, the administration and Board of Trustees did a lot of thinking and self-analyzing to find ways to break the ongoing ethical blindspots at the school.

In an email sent by the SCI-Arc’s Director/CEO, Hernán Díaz Alonso, he opened by sharing:

To the SCI-Arc Community,

Over the past few months, SCI-Arc has been actively addressing internal issues of great importance to the overall health of the school. First and foremost, our focus is on the experience and education of our students. We have been listening intently, and we are committed to doing the right thing, the right way, for the safety of our students and community and for the betterment of architecture as a whole.

SCI-Arc’s Administration is moving forward to implement policy changes announced earlier today by the Board of Trustees. 

What followed is a list of changes being made into effect. The list includes the…

  • Creation of a Career Servies Advisor
  • Creation of a Working Group to Review Internship and Scholarship Policies
  • Revised Internship Policy
  • Student Scholarship Process
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) Job Opportunities
  • Faculty and Student Handbook Updates

The recent email re-announced the appointments of John Cooper, Erik Ghenoiu, and Marcelyn Gow, as well as the current status of the school’s Undergraduate Program Chair, which faculty members William Virgil and Darin Johnstone are currently filling until a permanent replacement is announced. 

An email from Kevin Ratner, SCI-Arc’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, also shared that “an outside, independent firm has completed a thorough inquiry into allegations that didn’t align with the values SCI-Arc has established in its first half-century […] To the extent that we — or the industry — went astray, we take seriously our role as stewards of architecture practice and are working to restore any loss of trust that may have resulted.”

Related on Archinect: A public apology gone awry, new faculty appointments, and a postponed 50th-anniversary celebration are among the most recent updates to the SCI-Arc controversy

Concluding his message to the community, Díaz Alonso explained, “we recognize that societies aren’t static, and neither are industries. Disciplines need to evolve and adapt, and we are committed to being part of the guidance of architecture.”

The events at SCI-Arc clearly sparked important discussions regarding academia, labor, and ethical modes of practice. Students, alums, faculty, and the architecture community are now prompted to challenge old and outdated views on labor and professional practice across the industry. While SCI-Arc isn’t the only school that suffers from severe problems that require serious reform, let’s hope their announcement pushes other institutions to take note and do the same.