Can the design of a building reduce inequality?

That question is at the heart of a design studio for students who are in the second year of the three-year masters in architecture program in the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design.

The students are tapped with designing a hypothetical UCLA Arts AEDI Center, in which principles of anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion are put into action through building design. Ideas of sustainability and accessibility are also folded into the project. 

“I think what we’re trying to do is a paradigm shift away from a kind of a distant, automated, estranging kind of environment where people are bureaucratized, into something way more engaging,” said Mohamed Sharif, assistant adjunct professor of architecture, and leader of the comprehensive design studio.

The theoretical project would be sited on North Campus, just north of the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden and south of the Richard Meier-designed Broad Art Center. It would sit on the grassy plaza where the 42.5-ton Richard Serra-designed curving steel sculpture now sits.

An AEDI Center would be “an educational building, but also an archive, and a place from which new knowledge is disseminated,” Sharif said. Some of the renderings remind him of a town hall, or a laboratory building, or even a busy train station where people are moving and congregating. 

“There’s no real kind of prototype out there for this kind of a building,” he said. “We hope it’s a space for deliberative democracy.”

Read the full story on the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture website.