The greatest challenge for the new Animo Leadership High School was posed by the site: undersized and split into two parcels separated diagonally across an intersection. Compounding these issues is the school’s location, near Los Angeles International Airport and within a quarter mile of the 105 Freeway—adding noise and air quality to the list of concerns. The parcels’ small size and disjointed nature made the school’s organization a paramount priority. The solution was to concentrate the programming with the most daily activity on one site—grouping classrooms, administrative offices, and support facilities such as the library and laboratories—leaving the other site to accommodate large assembly spaces that incur less frequent traffic, in this case the multipurpose gymnasium and a large studio space for music and dance.
With a project target of CHPS and/or LEED Certification at the minimum, aesthetics, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness were considered in every design decision. The south facade is clad with 650 solar panels. When completed the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by over 3 million pounds.
Taking full advantage of the region’s temperate climate, the designers eschewed the fully contained “big box” idiom of conventional schools on the primary use site. Instead, a landscaped courtyard with multifunctional “bleacher” terracing flows into the open-air covered lobby and the multilayered paseo, lending the school the appeal of a collegiate campus and offering significant environmental benefits—improving daylighting and access to fresh air both inside and out—while providing substantial cost savings by limiting artificial lighting and thermal conditioning to the smaller enclosed spaces.
Faceted, ribbed screens appear as a façade motif; both visually connecting the school with the community and modulating light to protect from the building from unwanted solar heat gain. Solar panels form the screen system on the longest façade of the building; augmented by additional panels on the roof, they will provide clean, renewable energy for the school. On the other site, the multipurpose gymnasium and music/dance studio are housed on either end of a long 35’-high building with shared support space in between. Glazed 10’-high roll-up doors that spread across both ends maximize daylighting and views, and can be opened to extend activity into the courtyards beyond. Numerous other sustainable design features and environmentally-friendly materials are incorporated throughout the entire project.
Green Dot Charter Schools
Pacific Charter Schools
Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)
Thorton Tomasetti (structural engineer) Newsonacoustics (Acoustical)
National American Institute of Architects Educational Design Award
Westside Urban Forum, Westside Prize, Infill-Unbuilt, 2009