A recently completed school project by Brooks + Scarpa in Los Angeles aims to soften the severity of new school security measures by focusing on formal exuberance and textured materiality to create a series of perforated metal panel-covered learning sheds that also happen to be bulletproof. With the project, Animo South Los Angeles Charter High—a public charter school located in South L.A’s Westmont neighborhood—aims to bounce back from a devastating 2014 fire that wiped out half the campus. The school has not been directly been involved in a shooting, but violence plagues portions of the surrounding local community. Because the school is located near the sites of several gang-related shootings—the complex has been hit by unintended drive-by gunfire in the past—the new facilities are designed to higher security standards than might otherwise be the case. Four years after the blaze, Brooks + Scarpa have delivered a new 630-student structure that aims for “fresh air and daylight” in its public spaces as well as “a safe and secure environment for leaning and social engagement,” according to the architects. The C-shaped complex contains eleven classrooms in all, as well as two science labs, a faculty lounge, and new administrative and counseling offices that are all linked by exterior walkways wrapped in see-thru metal paneling. For the project, the architects aim to harness new safety-focused design considerations in a way that does not limit design possibilities or produce windowless, hardened spaces. Site requirements for the project demanded a perimeter security wall that was not only 20 feet tall, but could also repel bullets. By placing the bulk of the classrooms along this outermost edge of the site and wrapping those elements in solid walls and expanses of bulletproof curtain walls, the designers appealed to multiple requirements at once. Providing transparency and rigidity together, the perimeter walls—almost totally wrapped in reflective perforated yellow panels—appear solid during the day, when they catch the sunlight. But at night, the volumes glow from within, revealing the silhouettes of the building’s interiors. The perimeter wall maneuver also opened up the possibility of locating a generous courtyard within the complex, creating a plaza that could potentially unify and uplift the campus. Following a footprint derived from the intersecting mix of easements and setbacks the define the site’s buildable area, the single-story complex rises as a seemingly monolithic cluster of three buildings that sit just far enough apart from one another to leave exit corridors in between. These spare and rectilinear circulation spaces are bound by canted walls and connect to the large semi-circular courtyard along the edge of the site facing the existing school. Here, the circular plaza is inscribed with a rounded planter while a linear stone bench cuts across the expanse. Wynne Landscape Design was the landscape architect on the project. The yellow scrim creates a variable and permeable semi-circular edge around the courtyard, cutting into an internal walkway on one end and punctured by a large picture window looking into an administrative office on the other. The courtyard brings daylight into the complex and allows for views to stretch through the building, a boost to the eyes-on-the-street approach of contemporary school safety design. The steel truss-supported scrim is visible from inside the classroom and office spaces, some of which feature direct connections to the exterior spaces formed by the wall and the classroom. Larry Scarpa, principal of Brooks + Scarpa, said, “There are many issues to solve [in school design]—including safety—but without a vibrant learning environment, the kids are the only people who suffer.” Scarpa explained the project also featured high ceilings—the 13- to 20-foot ceilings in the classrooms—which the designers provided by leaving the structural ceilings exposed, with a layer of blue jean insulation left open for all to see. “Studies have shown that students score higher and score better with higher ceilings and ceilings that are painted blue,” Scarpa explained. The school is in the process of moving into the spaces and will come online later this fall in time for the 2018-2019 school year.
Posts tagged with "Brooks+Scarpa":
The Facades+ Los Angeles conference took place last week in Downtown Los Angeles, bringing together technical innovators, socially-driven practitioners, and visionary academics to discuss some of the most resonant topics facing architecture today. Here are some highlights from the event’s first day. The conference opened with remarks from City of Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Engineer Deborah Weintraub, who elaborated on the city's ongoing public improvement projects. Weintraub’s office is involved with many key regional projects, including the First and Broadway Park and the restoration of the Los Angeles River. Many of the day’s discussions straddled architects’ multi-faceted approach to addressing the region’s ongoing housing crisis. Opening keynote speaker Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects motioned toward the crisis in his opening keynote, which touched on the frustrating state of affairs relative to building high-density infill housing in apartment-starved cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nevertheless, Saitowitz vowed to push forward with his desire to provide “freedom of occupation” for city inhabitants through new apartment dwellings. The architect explained that he pursues this vision via an emphasis on the open plan and integrated service cores in his projects. The resulting unit arrangements allow for occupants to enjoy “better flooring, nicer kitchens, and more glass” in each apartment, Saitowitz explained. The architect chronicled several of his office’s most controversial high-rises, including the Palladium Towers in Los Angeles and several San Francisco– and Chicago-based projects. It is no coincidence that as rents and property values have skyrocketed across the region, more and more people are finding themselves homeless. Luckily, architects are leading housing justice discussions, especially those working with organizations like nonprofit housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) to develop affordable, well-designed social housing. The Architect’s Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief William Menking led a panel discussion with Mike Alvidrez of the SRHT, Angela Brooks of Brooks+Scarpa, and Nathan Bishop of Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) that discussed architects’ efforts at crafting thoughtful and impactful supportive housing projects. During the discussion, Alvidrez explained that SRHT’s projects were widely used to promote a recent ballot initiative aimed at raising taxes to fund more housing development and assistance. By pursuing a “housing-first” model that focuses social services on re-housing individuals first and foremost, SRHT has been able to spread design quality to over 1,800 inhabitants in projects as varied as Brooks+Scarpa's The Six and Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Crest Apartments. During the talk, Brooks described the social mission of the project as being focused on shared spaces, economy of structure, and sustainability. The discussion was a precursor for the afternoon keynote, which featured KEA principals Julie Eizenberg and Nathan Bishop discussing L.A.’s vernacular apartment types. Their discussion covered the quirks of apartment design in Los Angeles, which is guided predominantly by density restrictions and car parking requirements. The talk sought to situate the firm’s work amid a backdrop of increasing urbanization and density, especially the firm’s 500 Broadway project, which features 249 market-rate residences and is organized as a group of four buildings structured by prefabricated steel moment frames that allow for greater flexibility in placing interior partitions. These socially-driven discussions were bookended by a technically-driven examination of SOM’s new Los Angeles United States District Courthouse by Jose Luis Palacios, Keith Boswell, and Garth Ramsey of SOM. The project utilizes a dynamic, accordion-fold facade to maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain while also formally projecting democratic ideals regarding the nature of public space, justice, and building craft. The presenters focused on the beneficial aspects of the design-build nature of the project, a process with fostered conceptual and material innovation with regards to the building envelope and the architects’ overall seismic strategies. Later in the day, the Scholars and Skins discussion with Doris Sung of DO-SU Studio, Satoru Sugihara of ATLV, and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design and Architecture covered myriad new developments in dynamic, technologically-focused material and formal innovation. Sung described her firm’s work with layered metal sheets that self-assemble and move into various shapes with the use of heat and sunlight. Sugihara focused his discussion on his firm’s facade work with high-technology and sustainability-focused firms like Morphosis. Huang detailed designs for a pavilion his firm designed for car manufacturer Volvo that utilizes a curving skin to create space and shelter. Huang described his treatment of the project's skin as “a canvas—everything has joints and patterning. There is no such thing as a monolithic surface.” The day’s events closed out with a talk by Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) that focused on the potential for so-called “selfie-architecture” to impact urban spaces. Kimm explained that as cities like Los Angeles grow, their reach will be buoyed by the proliferation of the images created by inhabitants and visitors of its streets and iconic structures. Missed the Los Angeles Facades+ conference? Meet The Architect's Newspaper in Seattle December 8th for the next conference installment. See the Facades+ website for more information.
Filings with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (LADCP) indicate that Los Angeles-based architects Brooks+Scarpa are working on a new, 60-unit mixed-use project in the city’s North Hollywood neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. The LADCP documents indicate that the new five-story, mixed-use project will contain six units dedicated to Very Low Income Households and 2,826 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The complex will also contain one level of underground parking with 90 parking stalls. The building is being designed to a maximum height of 60 feet and will contain 44 one-bedroom units, 12 studio units, and 4 two-bedroom units. It will also feature a collection of shared leisure spaces, including a central courtyard, outdoor deck area, and a community room. The complex is articulated as a building mass extruded from the footprint of the building. That mass is carved away in certain areas, particularly along southern and northern exposures—Camarillo and Bakman Streets, respectively—where the facade gives way to generous, interior courtyard areas. The Camarillo Street frontage contains the largest openings, creating a street-fronting, three-story plaza located above the building’s retail level. Distinctively, the building’s fifth level caps the front facade, creating a large entry portal to the building’s interior. The complex features tall and narrow bands of casement windows and sliding doors and is clad throughout in a white, corrugated aluminum screen wall system. The San Fernando Valley, a densely-populated and diverse region north of Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, is currently seeing a boom in the construction of mid-rise, mixed-use projects, including the conversion of an outdated Westfield Corporation shopping mall by HKS Architects, Johnson Fain, and Togawa Smith Martin Architects and the development of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals by the Skid Row Housing Trust and Michael Maltzan Architects. This Brooks+Scarpa project is located adjacent to the Red Line subway line and Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit line. Developers HL Capital Holdings II have not released a construction timeline for the project.
The biggest new architecture project in Los Angeles just got a much smaller list of candidates. The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the shortlist for the new U.S. Courthouse in LA, a design-build project where architects are partnered with builders. When completed, the building, located on a 3.7 acre lot at 107 South Broadway, will measure 600,000 square feet. It’s projected to cost $322 million and be completed by 2016. The shortlisted teams include: Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Clark Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy NBBJ Architects with Mortensen Shortlisted firms will now be expected to submit plans as part of a Request For Proposals. The winner is expected to be named by this August or September, and design is set to begin by the end of this year. Those who didn’t make the cut included Morphosis, Michael Maltzan Architects, Ehrlich Architects, AC Martin, Johnson Fain Architects, Fentress Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, and Cannon Design. Another exclusion was Perkins + Will, who GSA originally chose to design the project before it stalled several years ago.