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Big Leagues
League of Shadows pavilion by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S transforms SCI-Arc's Los Angeles campus.
Monica Nouwens / Courtesy P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

Over the last several years SCI-Arc has selected faculty members to design its parking lot graduation pavilion, resulting in rowdy designs that have helped energize the occasion. This year, thanks to a $400,000 ArtPlace grant (roughly half went to the graduation project) the school has gotten something more permanent. League of Shadows, by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, will stand for at least four years at the Los Angeles architecture school’s campus. Looming 55 feet tall, the steel and fabric behemoth could fit all of the previous pavilions combined inside of it.

“We wanted to take over the corner and create a presence for the school,” said P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S principal Marcelo Spina, who noted that the location still manages to conserve parking spaces, a precious commodity in the emerging Arts District. League of Shadows has become the low-slung school’s contribution to LA’s skyline. Spina’s partner, Georgina Huljich, likens it to a giant billboard.


Inspired by the firm’s much smaller pavilion for the New Sculpturalism show at MOCA, the tilting, three-part structure was designed using extensive solar studies to provide maximum shade for a setting that is always sun-baked. The edifice’s heavy, leaning steel pieces were welded and bolted together and then set with intertwined strips of black and turquoise nylon fabric. The pavilion’s challenging engineering—in some instances ten steel beams come together in the same place—was led by Matthew Melnyk of Nous Collaborative. The overall project was led by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, but SCI-Arc students helped over the course of two seminars.


League of Shadows’ dark design appears somewhat sinister, which seems to fitting for its moniker. Its lurching stance makes its shadows appear to project even further than they do. During the day the turquoise strips blend with the sky, and at night the black strips do the same. Because the black covering on the backside is semi-transparent, and because the strips on front are not flush, you can look into the concave structure and always get a sense of what’s holding it up. It certainly gives the viewer plenty to look at, which is important, because it’s meant to do more than stand as a backdrop for graduation. Next month, it will serve as the starting point for the LA Conservancy’s Arts District Tour.

Sam Lubell