The UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum’s newest art exhibit, “Outside In” plans to turn architecture inside out by presenting the modernist style of Southern California-based architects Whitney Smith and Wayne Williams.

Today, the on-campus Art, Design & Architecture Museum is opening an exhibit displaying the post-World War II work of Smith and Williams, who are based in Pasadena. “Outside In” takes an in-depth look at the modern architectural styles of Smith and Williams by examining the relationship between the actual building and the construction site and between interior and exterior.

The show is one of eleven exhibitions of “Pacific Standard Time Presents: ‘Modern Architecture in L.A.,’” a Getty-funded collaborative celebration of Southern Californian architecture. Smith and Williams’ work embodies Southern Californian architectural style and is culturally indicative of the time period.

Architecture and Design Collection Curator Jocelyn Gibbs said these architects created a new type of modernism that could be more easily integrated into the everyday lives of a post-WWII America.

“Their particular kind of modernism, I think, shows the great optimism after the war. Finally there’s freedom, and a sense of great optimism and opportunity during this tremendous period of growth,” Gibbs said. “They had a particularly refined way of creating spacious architecture that brought the outdoors inside. They created ambiguous spaces.”

Fourth-year political science major and art history minor Tara Kopp, an intern at the on-campus museum, said the architects’ environmentally-conscious designs relate to contemporary concerns, linking the past to the present.

“They really incorporated the outside elements, which is so relevant to today with all the environmental concerns,” Kopp said.

According to Assistant Curator Christina Chiang, Smith and Williams viewed modernism in architecture as a tool to create better spaces through joining external elements with internal ones, establishing a different approach to living spaces.

“They tried to integrate a fun aspect even if they were supposed to be selling something — ideas like having golfing and boating inside of shopping malls,” Chiang said. “So when you are inside you feel like you are outside.”

The exhibit attempts to represent Smith and Williams’ architectural style through installation details and designs. In order to convey the space and feel of their style, exhibition designer Kris Miller Fischer engages the audience through interactive features of the architecture and exhibit itself by using screens, ceiling structures, and movements based on documents from Smith and Williams’ work.

There are over 400 pieces in the exhibit, ranging from magazine articles, published works, drawings and sketches, photographs, models and an interactive three-dimensional structure designed in accordance with their modern style. Most of the pieces in the exhibit come from the Smith and Williams’ archive in the museum’s own Architecture and Design Collection, one of the largest collections of Southern California’s architectural history in North America.

There is an opening reception tonight at the museum, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. featuring a gallery walk-through with the curators, special guests, and music provided by KCSB. The exhibition is free and will run through June 16, 2013.


UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum showcases architecture that conveys the optimistic feeling of the post-World War II era, according to the collection curator.