Last Thursday AN California Editor Sam Lubell (author… ahem… of this post) moderated the first in a series of panels hosted by the AIA/LA called Design Dialogues. The discussion centered around educational design, and panelists included Hraztan Zeitlian of Leo A Daly Architects, John Enright of Griffin Enright Architects, and John Friedman of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects.
Panelists showed off their ambitious plans for new academic buildings like Zeitlian’s LAUSD South Region High School #9 (pictured above), which takes design and planning cues from the nearby LA River and its industrial infrastructure; and Friedman’s Claremont McKenna Athletic Center (below), a meticulously organized facility with dramatic open spaces and an eclectic facade that is aiming for a LEED Gold rating. Enright presented his St. Thomas the Apostle School project, which creates a new multipurpose room with a cantilevered “urban porch,” providing valuable public urban space in a cramped area.
All three discussed the challenges of working within the often restrictive educational realm. Perhaps the biggest challenge, pointed out Zeitlian, was not only designing an innovative new scheme that addressed its context, but also responding to the thorough review process of the LAUSD. Enright suggested that keeping costs down allowed for a surprising amount of design freedom on his project. At least until the next round of value engineering.