Designed to serve a growing community, LAUSD’s Elementary School (ES) #9 began with a simple goal: create an open, welcoming campus for students while maximizing convenience to parents and administration. The community was in need of the school to alleviate overcrowding at the other six regional Los Angeles elementary schools. The new campus is home to over 650 children in kindergarten through fifth grade and consists of a 12,500-SF multi-purpose building, a 47,930-SF classroom building, and a variety of outdoor playground areas. In response to the neighborhood context, the design strategy is rooted in minimizing the building footprints, making them as efficient as possible in order to gain desired playground areas. The project incorporates sustainable features and is targeting 32 Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) points.
The campus includes 26 classrooms in a new, three-story building, along with a library and administration offices. To promote 21st century teaching and learning, classrooms are designed to capitalize on student collaboration and flexible instruction. The classroom building features ample secondary spaces on the upper floors that include teacher workrooms, speech therapy rooms, and resource specialist classrooms. West of the classroom building is the multi-purpose building that includes an 8,500-SF multi-purpose space, kitchen, staff lunchroom, and a covered outdoor lunch area.
Grades are grouped together on specific floors to increase security and provide dedicated circulation. Kindergarten and third are located on the ground floor, first and second are on the second floor, and fourth and fifth grades are on the third floor. Four kindergarten classrooms are located on the south side of the building and each pair of classrooms has a dedicated joint restroom. The classrooms front onto a secure playground that is enclosed for separation from the larger all campus play areas. The third grade classrooms are located on the north side of the ground floor and exit onto the blacktop playground. First and second grades share the same means of exiting through a dedicated staircase on the east side of the building, while fourth and fifth grades share an exit stair from the third floor.
The design was led by three key initiatives: to maximize playground areas on an urban site; to minimize traffic congestion; and to provide security while retaining a welcoming aesthetic. The intersecting space between the buildings serves as the main entry to the campus, and is articulated by colored concrete, landscaping, and a multi-level covered bridge element that serves the upper floors of the classroom building. The single point of access helps provide increased security.
Circular openings are repeated throughout the classroom building’s exterior façade with the intension of being playful elements of design, while providing opportunities for increased security. The circles offer visual connections from the upper outdoor decks to the playgrounds, which provide teachers with better access to supervision. The circles are also a reminder that ES #9 is a place for kids and create a lively exterior that complements the energy and vivaciousness of the students and learning that occurs within.