Located at the edge of downtown Los Angeles on a 9.8 acre site, the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts is part of the downtown Los Angeles cultural corridor together with existing noteworthy cultural buildings.
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 (1,800 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, fully equipped, a cafeteria, administrations spaces, science rooms, and open air facilities.
The urban design strategy follows the idea of “chess”, a metaphor for a city in which buildings act as agents that are charged with “moves” and have the potential to transform the urban landscape. The different parts of the building act like figures on a chess board.
In case of the High School #9 three sculptures inject into the school additional public programs that change the dynamics of the campus itself and create new relationships in the city, both programmatically and physically: a tower as sign for the arts which provides a new landmark point of identification to the students, a public lobby, and the library in the center of the campus. All three sculptural buildings can be seen from the main school entrance via a 80 feet wide grand stair.
A hierarchical organization differentiates public, semi-public and private spaces by the surface materials and colors. 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 color each is selected for the academies to create a distinct contrast, which will help create identification and unity in the group, but also individuality.
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