Located just south of downtown Los Angeles in an isolated pocket of light manufacturing and vacant buildings with minimal community life, this middle school links two city blocks and provides a safe learning haven for more than 1,500 students.
Within a tight budget, a clear and simple design was employed to allow for quality materials including corrugated steel and concrete masonry.
The 150,000-square-foot campus (plus 65,000 square feet of structured parking, canopies and bridges) includes a 3-acre academic quad and, across the street, a 6-acre athletic quad.
The two-story academic building houses administration, library, lecture space, and shared classrooms on the first floor, with individual classrooms on the upper level. Each side of the U-shaped plan, color-coded in blue, green or yellow, forms a community of about 500 students; each individual classroom within its cluster is painted a different shade of the principal color.
The two quads are joined by a pedestrian bridge over a wide, busy street that links classrooms with a gymnasium, playing fields, a track, and faculty parking for 142 cars.
All shade canopies are tilted at an optimal angle to the sun, to enhance the performance of photovoltaics.
In keeping with the rough urban environment, the site plan pushes the buildings to the sidewalk while the colorful interior courtyard provides secure social and recreational spaces for the students.