Coop Himmelb(l)au's new school lands in Los Angeles
Located at the edge of downtown Los Angeles on a 9.8 acre site, the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts was to be part of the downtown Los Angeles cultural corridor together with existing noteworthy cultural buildings. The design responds to this context with a campus marked by architectural icons of symbolic value, a tower as a sign for the arts which provides a new landmark point of identification to the students, a public lobby, and the library in the centre of the campus. All three sculptural buildings can be seen from the main school entrance via a 80 ft wide grand stair.
The Arts High School will exemplify LAUSD’s model of Small Learning Communities. The facilities for the four academies for Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Music and Dance are used by about 450 students each (1800 total), including classrooms, studios and administrative spaces. Shared spaces are grouped around the main school courtyard; the library, a public 950 seat performing arts theater, a cafeteria, administrations spaces, science rooms, and open air facilities.
A hierarchical organization differentiates public, semi-public and private spaces by the surface materials and colours. In the interiors the unadorned environment gives the students the opportunity to adopt the spaces and leaves them room to unfold - a condition for an environment of learning and creativity.
One accent colour each is selected for the academies to create a distinct contrast, which will help create identification and unity in the group, but also individuality.