Efforts to relieve school overcrowding and get students “off buses and into schools” have typically involved an overflow relief effort that has resulted in the need for new facilities throughout denser, more urban areas of Los Angeles. The Central Region Middle School #7 (crMS#7) project represents the generation of one of these schools. At the corner of Adams and Compton in South Los Angeles, crMS#7 houses 1350 Students in 50 Classrooms on a 5.85 acres site. This shift from larger more sub-urban sites to denser urban areas requires a shift in the conception of building types, site strategies, and program distribution/ efficiencies. Density as a force demands the project be considered as a piece of the city rather than a stand-alone body. The “footprint” of the project’s immediate operations is larger than the building footprint or site area forcing a radical re-conception of the built element’s responsibilities. Architecturally, crMS#7 focuses on the strategic management of continuous/ discontinuous elements and systems throughout, moving past accommodation to a condition that is programmatically generative.
4 examples follow:
A. (Onsite) Aggregated programs yield ‘Plaza’. Through the strategic configuration of single and double height spaces, a semi-enclosed plaza is generated at +6’-0” above sportfield level. This 6’ mis-registration allows the Plaza to operate as the central circulation and gathering space for the campus. Floors and fields that would otherwise be 1- story apart, are now short circuited by this 1/2 level open space. This resultant space (150x150 ft.) is not in the initial program and, as such, is largely un-programmed. Despite being somewhat marginal to the initial program, this Plaza space would become central to the operation of the school as it
provides the only space large enough to accommodate an all-school meeting.
B. (Onsite) Sportfield/ Elevations.
The height of the school provides vertical surfaces with a unique relationship to open spaces and fields on the campus. These facades are ordered such that they alter/ organize the spatial condition of the campus versus merely providing openings into built
C. Strategic split section +/-6’. Security and safety are paramount concerns for any school. The above/ below grade building section addresses these issues. On Adams and Compton, because the parking and first floor of the building are out of alignment with the sidewalk, entry points, windows, and the main plaza are raised to break direct visual and physical contact with the surrounding
D. (Off-site/ Onsite) Programmed; semi-programmed; un-programmed space. The typical program generally delineates only programmed or functionally specific areas. On larger sites, unspecified areas are the result of numerous marginal areas such as distances between multiple smaller buildings; the creation of courtyards; peripheral areas etc. As site acreage becomes smaller, these areas diminish as density increases, leaving fewer buildings while sports fields begin to act as the only open space. crMS#7 recognizes the value of un-specified spaces. Areas such as the plaza, entry court, lunch area, and circulation are positioned and configured such that, in addition to their basic function, they foster other, potentially unforeseen programs.
Location: Los Angeles, CA, US
My Role: Project Designer