LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts)
Los Angeles, CA
From their mission statement; ‘LACHSA offers a specialized program combining college-preparatory academic instruction and conservatory-style training in the visual and performing arts. Founded in 1985, the tuition-free public school is run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education in partnership with and on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).’
The program operates on an extremely tight budget; challenges which have not hindered the school from becoming one of the premier art schools in the country. Previously, the school program was spread ad-hoc throughout various available spaces on the university campus, and suffered from a lack of efficiency and cohesion. The ability to create meaning with limited means is of course at the heart of the artistic struggle itself, and drove the design efforts for the project.
The site for the school is situated below the main level of Circle Drive and Cal State LA, on the northern boundary of the campus at the foot of a steep slope. Working with the steeply sloped site, the building is designed with direct connections at all levels of the building to the site. Like a warehouse, the building utilizes a simple repetitive braced frame steel structure to maximize efficiency and flexibility. Very few of the interior walls are load bearing, to allow future adjustment to the building usage. The top level of the building is comprised entirely of the black box theater and its related spaces. As the school’s most public function it is the only programmatic element at the level of the university, and creates a dialogue with the nearby Luckman Theater complex. The roof of the main building, meanwhile, acts as an extension of the ground plane. This green roof will serve as theater forecourt, reception area, as well as exterior stagecraft production space. The project is due to receive LEED Gold.
*While Design Principal with HMC Architects