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A Quad Idea
Two new LA Trade Tech buildings first in community college overhaul
The new administrative (left) and technology buildings at the LA Treade Technical College designed by MDA Johnson Favaro Architecture helps create a campus where one barely existed.
Benny Chan/fotoworks

The opening of two new buildings at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College earlier this year marked the emergence of a thoroughly improved and enlarged campus in downtown LA. For four decades, not a single new structure had been built at the first institution in the 80-year-old Los Angeles Community College District. But the new Student Services/Administration Building and the Technology Classroom Building, designed by MDA Johnson Favaro Architecture and Urban Design, are the beginning of an explosion of new construction both here and at other LA community colleges.

The buildings, both five-stories tall and measuring a total of 125,000 square feet, signal a transition for the 23-acre college from a loose grouping of buildings south of the Interstate-10 Freeway into a more traditional campus environment. As the nearly symmetrical buildings address Grand Avenue with the sweeping curves of their façades, they draw students and the community into the new quad to the rear, acting as a gateway for the south campus.

The brace-frame structural system, which allows for an open layout within the Technology Classroom Building, is clearly visible through the  ribbon windows.

“This is the opportunity to give the college the identity it needed,” remarked Steven Johnson, principal at MDA Johnson Favaro.

The Students Services/Administration Building maximizes space by employing web-based enrollment technology, eliminating the need for waiting rooms, while the Technology Classroom Building's brace-frame structural system allows for a flexible floor plan and optimal lighting and views. Both buildings are expected to receive LEED Gold certification. They will add classrooms and labs, two 100-seat lecture halls, a student services center, and a distance learning and conference center, plus faculty and administration offices.

Along with its sibling, the Students Services/Administrative building is the first building built at LA Trade Tech in four decades and the first phase of a major expansion effort.

The buildings, with a combined cost of $125 million, mark the beginning of LA Trade Tech’s nearly $240 million renovation and expansion plan. This includes additional open space and sports facilities, a new Child Development Center, gallery space, a parking garage, and facilities management and operations headquarters. And virtually every existing building on campus will be renovated to maximize space, efficiency, and environmental performance.

All this activity is part of a $6 billion voter-approved proposition and bond initiative (Proposition A in 2001, Proposition AA in 2003, and Bond Measure J in 2008) that seeks to transform all nine of the City’s Community Colleges into green campuses, including 85 new structures. To showcase the new buildings, Trade Tech will host the 2010 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference from June 20-23.

Gunnar Hand