Out of Memory for the SCI-Arc Gallery in downtown Los Angeles was an experiential piece: a convergence of sound, material, light, form, and technology. Memory was the vehicle; the familiar was the impetus. The installation proposed a new structural materiality through the use of renewable polyurethane foam as a complete building assembly. Layers of closed cell foam (used structurally) and open cell foam (used acoustically) combined to create it. The pure geometry of the parabola provided a natural self-structural form. 


SCI-Arc Gallery, Los Angeles, CA




1,500 sq ft


Completed 2011


National AIA Award

American Architecture Award

Interior Design Best of Year Award

Prague Quadriennial

Istanbul Biannale




Machineous Fabrications

Buro Happold, Structural

Nous Engineering, Structural

KGM Lighting

Hoover McKay Conant Acoustics

A site-specific composition by world-renowned composer Ken Ueno accompanied the installation. The soundscape explored the spatialization of sound within the gallery, providing an ever-changing mobile, with software designed specifically for the installation. Resonance was exploited in the acoustically absorptive space. Each layer of sound related to an existing environmental sound and reenacted a memory of it. Through experiencing the aestheticized memory of the environmental sounds, one’s relationship with them was transformed. 

The interior surface of the parabolic structure was a three-dimensional representation of the musical composition. Realized through on-site, six-axis robotic milling, the sonic contours were derived from the sound contained within. A mapping of frequency based on a spectrogram of the composition was translated into points and vectors providing a framework for the digitally modeled three-dimensional surface. The data was then used to robotically carve the volume’s interior surface.

The spiraling geometry and acoustically absorptive material magnified both the spatial and the aural. Notions of memory were challenged. Traces of the ambient, combined with visions of the past, present, and future, heightened one’s awareness of the space, while altering perceptions. The piece transcended the original vision. The final outcome was derived from the act of making, and the memory of that act was eclipsed by the residual. Only the remnant of our pursuit remained in the gallery afterward.

© Tighe Architecture 2021

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