GIP hosts Poly parent and architect Alice Kimm

By Helen Deverell '19, Global Scholar candidate

Last Tuesday, members of Poly’s Global Initiatives Program, along with faculty and other members of the student body, recently had the special opportunity to hear from Poly parent Alice Kimm, principal architect at the Los Angeles-based firm John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK). In addition to co-heading her own firm alongside her husband, John Friedman, Kimm has a vast history in architectural education, having been appointed as chair, and then director, of Undergraduate Architecture at USC from 2010 to 2014, before being appointed an adjunct professor in 2015.

In her presentation, Kimm paired photographs of past projects (including a JFAK renovation of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) with explanations of what went on behind the scenes. She described the processes of sustainable design and development, manipulation of natural light, and physical implementation of literal and figurative “motifs” to provide each building with its own identity. Toward the end of her talk, Kimm spoke about a fascinating phenomenon — one which, she argues, has fundamentally shifted the ways in which our society experiences architecture. Instead of immersing ourselves in the beauty of the buildings in which we stand like we once did, we’re now focused on snapping the perfect picture to share online — “selfie culture” has taken over.

Kimm’s lecture was illuminating and engrossing (as was evident by the audience’s eager questions), and Poly is immensely lucky to have Kimm in our community.
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