Stiff Peaks

In this film architects Ben Warwas (SCI-Arc M.Arch1 ’12) and Christopher Skeens (SCI-Arc M.Arch1 ’12) take a journey through “Stiff Peaks” the ADU they designed in Elysian Heights for a Los Angeles-based poet and filmmaker. Skeens and Warwas describe the theatrical narrative that is created as one moves through the site and into the building interior. The presence of a large skylight introduces luminous qualities into the space and produces an elevated feeling. The building wrapper is designed to initially produce the impression that the building is a solid mass, while slowly revealing its surface qualities from various vantage points.

Chris Skeens is an architect and theatrical designer with extensive experience in the performing arts. Chris got his start as a child actor and spent his formative years collaborating with avant-guard luminaries such as Richard Foreman, John Jesurun, and David Newman. After attending SCI-Arc Chris was fortunate to work with Michal Maltzan (WAG, St. Petersburg Pier) and Frank Gehry (Pierre Boulez Saal, YOLA Beckman Center, Colburn School, Meta Building X etc.). Upcoming projects include a collaboration with the Oakland Symphony and ByBen with whom he made the AIA award winning “Stiff Peaks”.

Ben Warwas began his architecture career at the age of 13 when he designed and built a halfpipe so the kids in the neighborhood could skateboard in his parent’s Berkeley backyard. Ben honed his interest in structure and design studying fashion and receiving his B.A. at MassArt where he was awarded Best Design two years in a row. He then established a boutique clothing company selling internationally and costumed bands such as Le Tigre and The Locust. Ben returned to the architecture world working with a General contractor on design/build hillside projects in Los Angeles. He completed study at SCI-Arc with an M. Arch I degree where he received the Best Thesis prize. After working at various firms (namely Anonymous Architects, Michael Maltzen, Space International, and Zago Architecture) in 2017 he established his own architectural practice, Byben.

Crew Credits:

Creator and Executive Producer – Hernán Díaz Alonso
Producers – Marcelyn Gow/Reza Monahan
Director – Reza Monahan
Director of Photography – Sean Morris
B Camera – Armeen Monahan
C Camera – Robert Moreno
Swing Tech – Vidhi Bansal
Sound Engineer – Orville Allen

Story Producer – Marcelyn Gow
Editors – Cal Crawford/Reza Monahan

“One Evening in May pt. 5”
by James Forest

Image Credits:
Mud Huts –
Built By Hand
Eiko Komatsu; Athena Steen; Bill Steen
Publisher: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2003
Egg Whites – Moskovchenko

Additional Images and Video Provided by Ben Warwas and Chris Skeens

©2022 SCI-Arc Channel



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