SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) is one of the most progressive design schools in the nation. It occupies the eastern edge of the downtown Arts District, in a quarter-mile-long former train depot the length of Santa Fe Avenue between Third and Fourth streets, and is known for its wildly interdisciplinary, industrial spirit. One highlight is the SCI-Arc Gallery, a free, public exhibition space offering about four shows a year by both invited guests and faculty artists, with related lectures and events. Popular exhibitions by Heather Flood, Ball-Nogues Studio and Barbara Bestor each transformed the space with eclectic takes on the digital/sculptural/structural continuum. The school advances futuristic and sustainable materials, robotics and unconventional aesthetics, as becomes apparent when you visit the gallery, which is nestled along a daisy chain of workspaces, providing a lively and exotic context for whatever you're about to see. —Shana Nys Dambrot

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