Dissolve the boundaries between the building systems and the ground
Program is slipped between layers of lifted landscape to dissolve the boundaries between the building systems and the ground and to prioritize views of the historically significant Armory building and the existing landscape of the Rose Garden. The hybrid campus of primary education and scholastic research serves as a gateway to the greater University of Southern California/Exposition Park area and establishes a community foothold in the heart of South Los Angeles.
The Armory’s Main Hall, converted into a flexible, open two-story atrium and dominated by a large interior bamboo garden, is the heart of the Science Education Resource Center. Libraries, labs, meeting rooms, and classrooms flank the atrium’s perimeter and are provided access to the new North school building via a pair of bridges that lead across an outdoor garden lunchroom. The interior bamboo garden, pierced midway up by skywalks and punctuated with meeting spaces is meant to bring a piece of nature into this somewhat blighted inner city environment. It is possible, once the bamboo is fully grown to find a space of respite among the plants or to use areas carved into the midst of the planted space as an experiential teaching opportunity.
The new North building burrows into sculpted earthworks along Exposition Boulevard; its landscaped roof is perceptually an extension of the garden. Classrooms are grouped in clusters of four that share a common room, to provide an open and flexible teaching environment. In response to the Exposition Park master plan and to highlight the historic Armory, this “non-building” nestles into excavated land below grade, its program essentially tucked and embedded into the park. The structure emerges quietly from the adjacent Rose Garden — a welcoming and protective environment for children that has forgone the traditionally overt sense of enclosure of most public schools. From the vantage point of the Rose Garden, the roof appears as ground plane, whereas from the heavily trafficked Exposition Boulevard, the building appears autonomous and active. The project engages the site and the community and is perceived as both an intervention and a connection between the disparate adjacent conditions.