Location: Los Angeles, California

Client: Los Angeles Unified School District

The largest new high school for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Miguel Contreras Learning Complex is located on approximately 18 acres just outside of downtown Los Angeles in the Crown Hill District. The project addresses critical overcrowding at Belmont and Marshall by providing 71 classrooms and shared athletic facilities for the benefit of the academic community. Facilities that can be shared with the community, such as the auditorium and sports facilities are sited intentionally to avoid disrupting classes. Reflecting the density and scale of its urban location, the high school accommodates approximately 1,700 students in 221,100 square feet and is comprised of an auditorium/administration building, two classroom wings, library/multimedia labs, food services/cafeteria, two gymnasiums, and a parking facility.

The Courtyard is enlivened with distinctive smaller garden elements and performance spaces, each extensions of ground level teaching rooms. These include an outdoor music garden adjacent to the Instrumental room, an outdoor stage platform adjacent to the Dance room, an Herb Garden and informal “cook out” pergola adjacent to the Culinary Arts room and a stepped garden for nature sketching adjacent to the Art Studio Room. Garden steps on the western edge of the courtyard function as an informal amphitheater for school announcements.

The site’s most significant impact is its topographical complexity: The elevational difference between the street and the Northern portion of the site varies between 30 feet. The Academic Complex takes advantage of these constraints and proposes a series of stepped public spaces leading to a main landscaped inner courtyard between the Classroom Block cloisters.

In response to a major street that bisects the site, student circulation between the Academic Campus and the Sports Complex is secured via an elevated pedestrian bridge over Third Street. This bridge provides both a North-South circulation axis and a strong organizational nexus to the High School buildings.