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Family Values
Valley Family Center to unite several Los Angeles departments under one roof.
Courtesy HKS

Bringing consolidation to a new level, Los Angeles firm HKS is leading the construction of a new 212,000-square-foot facility in Van Nuys that will contain seven social service and civic departments, including Public Social Services, Child and Family Services, Child Support Services, Health Services, Probation, Mental Health, and Public Health.

It is no secret that such facilities can often be depressing, as can the purposes of visiting them, so HKS went to extra lengths to make the spaces as uplifting as possible, borrowing tested techniques from hospitality design. The space is infused with natural light through floor-to-ceiling glass, while Terrazzo floors, wood walls and ceilings, quilted fabric surfaces, and bright but tasteful colors.


“There is a goal that if you create a humane, dignified, respectful experience then people feel better about themselves and about their interaction with the government,” said HKS Principal Scott Hunter. Workspaces above for county employees utilize an open floor plan, promoting office interaction and accounting for maximum flexibility, since departments change formation often.

The building’s exterior will be clad in terra cotta, stone, glass, and metal panels. At the heart of the campus Ahbe Landscape Architects are converting a former parking lot into a grassy park, a rare site in such an institutional environment. A major initiative of outgoing county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the building will be factory assembled for rapid installation. Completion is set for late 2015 or early 2016.

Sam Lubell