Visitors walk through the Mullin Transportation Design Center at
Visitors walk through the Mullin Transportation Design Center at "Beyond Supersonic."

feature / alumni / college-news
June 10, 2024
Writers: Mike R. Winder
and Solvej Schou


The “Beyond Supersonic” Celebration Unveiled the new Mullin Transportation Design Center and the Reimagined 950 Building 

The day of activities activated all South Campus buildings, and included the third annual Design Invitational car show, an extensive Art Market, a preview of the IdentificarX exhibition, student work galleries, panel discussions, and more 

Several thousands of individuals streamed into ArtCenter College of Design’s South Campus on Saturday, June 8 for “Beyond Supersonic,” a celebration that not only marked the 20th anniversary of the College’s South Campus, but also welcomed the institution to its future as it unveiled several new learning spaces, including the brand-new Mullin Transportation Design Center—the new home of the College’s world renowned Transportation Design program. 

The College pulled out all the stops to celebrate the momentous occasion, transforming South Campus into what resembled a dynamic museum gallery experience, featuring student work from ALL ArtCenter disciplines, highlighting creativity, creative processes, and reinforcing the importance of art and design. Industry experts shared their thoughts on the future of creativity, AI and the future of transportation design, and a street was lined with alumni-designed vehicles ranging from a Disneyland Autopia car to Tesla’s Cybertruck. 

Visitors walk along a street between two rows of cars at the third annual Design Invitational car show at Beyond Supersonic.
Visitors at the third annual Design Invitational car show at "Beyond Supersonic."

Visitors stared in awe at the Mullin Transportation Design Center, a new “building within a building” with architectural features that appeared to hover inside the space of the reimagined 950 Building. Made possible due to a generous donation from Peter and Merle Mullin—whose relationship with the College as both Board of Trustee members and as key ambassadors stretches back more than 20 years—the innovative Mullin Transportation Design Center promises to propel ArtCenter's art and design programs to new heights. 

Darin Johnstone Architects, the firm behind the Mullin Transportation Design Center’s design, as well as previous ArtCenter projects, worked closely with the College’s Transportation Design department to conceptualize spaces that facilitate research, experimentation and cutting-edge design and which would inspire the next generation of artists and designers. 

In addition to being the new home of the College’s Transportation Design program, the 31,000-square-foot Mullin Transportation Design Center is also the crown jewel of South Campus’ reimagined 950 Building, which has been transformed from a historic supersonic wind tunnel into a creative hub where all disciplines of the College will converge, further solidifying ArtCenter’s position as a global leader in art and design education.  

Visitors to the 950 Building also caught a glimpse of the newly unveiled Mobility Experience Lab by Genesis, Hyundai & Kia, a lab dedicated to providing students with the latest technology and resources needed to set them up for successful careers in art and design.  

And adjacent to the 950 Building, the soon-to-be-completed 908 Workshops gave visitors a sneak preview of the types of projects that students from across all disciplines will make in the new facility. 

Visitors congregate near a clay model of car in the Mullin Transportation Design Center at Beyond Supersonic.
Visitors in the Mullin Transportation Design Center at "Beyond Supersonic."

Outside on Raymond Ave., which was closed to traffic for the day’s festivities, visitors walked among vehicles carefully curated for ArtCenter's third annual Design Invitational car show, whose theme this year was a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the College’s Transportation Design program. More than 50 vehicles were on display—37 of them designed by alumni—and were lined up along both the east and west sides of the street.  

Among those vehicles were the 1986 Corvette Indy, designed by alumnus Tom Peters (BS 80); a 1966 Ford Bronco 4x4, designed by alumnus and Ford’s first African American designer McKinley Thompson Jr. (BS 56); a 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, designed by alumnus Jin Kim (BS 01); a 2024 Lucid Air Sapphire, designed by alumna Jenny Ha Kim (BS 14); and a 1993 Ducati M900 Monster, designed by alum Miguel Galluzi (BS 86). Other crowd pleasers on display were a 2022 Hennessey Venom F5, designed by alumnus Nathan Malinick (BS 2018); a 2024 Cybertruck, designed by alumnus and new Trustee Franz von Holzhausen (BS 92) and alumnus Sahm Jafari (BS 17); and the 2014 life-size Darth Vader Hot Wheels car, designed by alumnus Bryan Benedict (BS 94), who also designed the Hot Wheels toy the car was based on. 

During the event, auto reporters Ed Justice Jr. And Dave Kunz walked up and down Raymond Ave, interviewing designers about their vehicles, culminating in an interview with alumnus Bob Gurr (BS 52), who designed Disneyland’s Autopia vehicles as well as the park’s iconic Monorail. On designing the latter, Gurr said, “[Walt Disney] showed me a picture of a German train and said, ‘That’s not so good looking. Bobby, I want you to get started on ours right away” and he walked off. He left me with a piece of paper and a pencil, and I could do anything I wanted. You could never get a job like that!” 

A room full of visitors listen at the AI and the Future of Creative Work panel discussion at Beyond Supersonic.
Visitors at the "AI and the Future of Creative Work" panel discussion at "Beyond Supersonic."

Guests to “Beyond Supersonic” were also treated to a sneak preview of IdentificarX, an exhibition celebrating the College’s Latina/e/o/x community. Featuring over 100 artists and designers—representing the broad spectrum of disciplines at the College—the exhibition explores the complex and distinct contributions ArtCenter’s alumni have made to the field of art and design, and their significant cultural impact.  

The major exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, June 15, can be experienced throughout four of the College’s South Campus galleries: the Hutto-Patterson Gallery (870 Building); the HMCT Gallery (950 Building); and the Peter & Merle Mullin Gallery and the Second Level Galleries (both in the 1111 Building). Presenting artists across multiple disciplines, IdentificarX provides a thoughtful look at the pathways and strategies that members of the Latina/e/o/x community undertake to become part of the culture making field.   

Also spread throughout the spaces were showcases of student work across all the College’s academic departments. Guests enjoyed viewing everything from a historically inspired archery uniform to a centrifugal cooking system for microgravity environments. Large scale photography from the College’s Photography and Imaging department lined a dramatic curved wall; open studios allowed visitors to get a behind-the-scenes look at Fine Art students’ works in progress; animation and video games created by the College’s Entertainment Design program filled one open classroom. 

Outside, additional activities for visitors both young and old included RC car races, with a grand prize of a RC Tesla Cybertruck signed by designer Franz von Holzhausen; 5-minute “Quick Draw” portrait sessions with current ArtCenter students; ArtCenter Trivia; and giant coloring pages of signature ArtCenter campus architecture. 

Two individuals selling prints, stickers, buttons and more stand behind a booth labeled Ciara + Jamie at Art Market at Beyond Supersonic
Students and alumni sold prints, T-shirts, stickers, zines and more at Art Market at "Beyond Supersonic."

Back inside the Mullin Transportation Design Center, a pair of filled-to-capacity panel discussions took place inside a 99-seat flexible media center.  

In the panel “AI and the Future of Creative Work,” Kelly Weldon (BS 16), a staff experience designer at Adobe, who works on generative AI video and audio, as part of the generative machine learning model Adobe Firefly, was asked about recent changes and trends in the field. “AI moves so quickly, and there are new tools, it feels like, every week,” she said. “As a creative, I have an opportunity to direct how we as a team build these products, what we do with them, what we allow ethically and responsibly, and that’s what I’m excited about. I get to research these AI tools every single day, and try to keep up with them. The speed of change is what’s been really surprising to me. Exciting, scary and hard to keep up with.”  

In the panel “The Future of Car Design: Changing Roles and Responsibilities, Tools and Processes,” Ian Cartabiano (BS 97), vice president of advanced design, Calty Design Research, Toyota/Lexus—who mentioned that he sold furniture before he started at ArtCenter—reflected on the power of leadership and mentorship. “The thing that I learned that I love is inspiring my team,” he says, breaking down leadership into five categories: clear communication, trusting your design team, building up the future generation of designers, learning that everyone is an individual, and leading with a positive attitude. “Design is tough,” he says. “You work on something, you work on something, you work on something. It can be canceled the next day. We just went through this, and the young team members are heartbroken. I’m like, ‘Hey! This happens, but we have another chance to do something tomorrow.’” 

Individuals shop at a booth selling prints, stickers, earrings and more at Art Market at Beyond Supersonic
Students and alumni sold prints, T-shirts, stickers, zines and more at Art Market at "Beyond Supersonic."

A short walk from the Mullin Transportation Design Center, a vibrant student and alumni Art Market operated out of the adjacent 870 Building. More than 60 artists and designers were busy selling T-shirts, stickers, prints, buttons, tote bags, zines, calendars, ceramics, plush toys, greeting cards and more to the crowds that had packed the first and second floors of the 870 Building.    

Walking through the 870 Building felt more like walking the aisles of a busy convention, with every nook and cranny filled with visitors purchasing often whimsical merchandise for sale from a diverse group of student and alumni artists. 

Julie Nguyen (BFA 18) and Richard Chang (BFA 18), representing their apparel brand Bandage Brigade at the Art Market—with a table and backdrop covered with cat-adorned sweaters, shirts, tote bags, hats, socks, stickers, pins and more—started their business the year they graduated. Talking excitedly, they praised being a part of the community-building event with other alumni, and current students, selling their art and design. “We get to see where a lot of old classmates have gone in their lives,” said Chang. “It’s so inspiring, being here,” added Nguyen. “The level of artistic ability has risen so much. It makes me want to keep creating.”