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Sci-Arc Graduate Thesis Symposium: Ecological Aesthetics

July 26, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

In 2001, the British multinational oil and gas company BP Amoco rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” abandoning its original name “British Petroleum.” Its logo was changed from a dark green shield (reminiscent of British racing green) lined in gold to a lighter green symbol of a sun, consisting of an inner gold layer, a lighter green middle layer, and a darker green outer layer matching its previous shield. Following this rebranding effort, communicating a commitment to renewable energy and environmental responsibility, came the massive 2006 pipeline spill in Alaska and the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that resulted in the largest marine oil spill in history.

Numerous other examples can easily be cited of similarly contradictory, paradoxical, and agonizing “greenwashing” strategies in recent times. Is the “green” aesthetic a distraction masking a continuation of modern technics and its extractive logics? Despite the obviousness of the need to call bullshit on such corporate rebranding efforts, it is nonetheless surprising that aesthetics can even be projected onto the ecological at all and bears some consideration. What are the effects of aesthetics on our sustainable practices? Are green aesthetics singular or plural? Are we sure its influence is positive? Are there alternative aesthetics we haven’t considered yet?

This symposium will consider some of the history behind the green aesthetic and the complex relationship between culture and material practice underlying its appearance during the late Modernist period. We will assume that there are alternative ecological aesthetics possible and examine what it might look like. In the looming environment crisis, can the designers inspire new possibilities with new ecological aesthetics?


David Ruy
Postgraduate Programs Chair, moderator

Enric Ruiz-Geli
Faculty MS Synthetic Landscapes

Timothy Morton
Faculty MS Synthetic Landscapes

Shuruq Tramontini
Faculty MS Fiction & Entertainment

Graduate Thesis at SCI-Arc is an opportunity for M.Arch students to explore a set of relevant disciplinary issues as they complete their programs of study and research with a presentation and public exhibition of an individual disciplinary position that expands the boundaries of contemporary architectural practice.


July 26, 2023
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Southern California Institute of Architecture
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W.M. Keck Lecture Hall
960 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013 United States
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