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Morphosis Brings Big Box School to Hollywood
Planning commission approves square school for hip Emerson entertainment interns, the latest from SoCal star
The LA Planning Commission approved a Morphosis designed building for Emerson College's entertainment program.
Courtesy Morphosis

Morphosis’ new Hollywood outpost for Boston-based Emerson College was approved on Thursday by the LA Planning Commission. The 125,000 square foot Emerson Center will be the permanent home for the college’s entertainment-centered internship program, currently located in Burbank.

The monumental project in many ways resembles Johann Otto von Spreckelsen's Grande Arche de La Défense in the Paris business district, albeit a more contemporary and sustainable version. It also has a distant sibling in the form of Gensler’s three-year-old headquarters for the Creative Artists Agency in Century City.

A terrace atop the building-within-a-building.

The new building will rise to 10 stories at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street. Its cube-shaped exterior, covered with a grid of aluminum sun shades, will surround a large void, inset with a deconstructed concrete, glass, and steel core, which will project toward Sunset. The building is seeking a minimum LEED Silver rating and will feature exterior landscaping as well as a vine-growing trellis along the Gordon Street side, creating a leafy entranceway as well as shading for a café.

The sides of the building will contain residence halls while the center will contain classrooms, administrative space, and two retail venues located along Sunset. The project will also include outdoor terraces, outdoor instructional spaces, and a large open stair ascending from the third to fifth floors.

The building is a mix of striking geometric and abstract shapes.

When the project was announced two years ago, firm founder Thom Mayne said it "makes a significant contribution to one of L.A.'s most dynamic urban contexts." Firm principal Kim Groves said that the quiet exterior is meant to defer to the incredible variety of its neighborhood, and that the core's visual movement would reflect "the intensity of what happens on the inside." The project is set to appear before LA City Council in mid-August.

Sam Lubell