Dr. Theodore Alexander Science Center School



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.

Posted: Feb 22nd, 2009 / Last Edited: Jun 1st, 2010 Print

Description

  • 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.


  • 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.


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Sustainability

  • Green roof
    The new North building burrows into the sculpted earthworks along the Boulevard, and the entire roof is landscaped. To respect the Exposition Park master plan, preserve views of the historic Armory, and buffer schoolchildren from busy Exposition Boulevard, this “non-building” nestles into excavated land below grade, its program essentially tucked and embedded into the park.

    New north building with green roof beside the Armory hall


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  • Green roof
    The new North building burrows into the sculpted earthworks along the Boulevard, and the entire roof is landscaped. To respect the Exposition Park master plan, preserve views of the historic Armory, and buffer schoolchildren from busy Exposition Boulevard, this “non-building” nestles into excavated land below grade, its program essentially tucked and embedded into the park.

    New north building with green roof beside the Armory hall


    Sun screen
    The north and south sides of the new school building are lined with a brise-soleil to passively shield the interior from excess sun and heat.

    Sun screen on north side of new building


    Interior green space
    The scheme renovates and opens up the historic Armory’s Main Hall, converting it into a two-story, open-air atrium with a bamboo garden. This new atrium, the heart of the Science Education Resource Center, serves as a space for events, exhibitions, leisurely gathering, and circulation.

    Bamboo garden in the renovated Armory hall


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Details

Location:
3737 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California, United States of America 90007
Client:
Los Angeles Unified School District / California Science Center
Site Area:
7.0 acres / 2.8 hectares
Size:
196,000 gross sq ft / 18,208 gross sq m
Program:
K-5 elementary school and Science Education Resource Center
Design:
1993 - 2001
Construction:
2002 - 2004
Type:
  • Educational

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