LocationAugustus F. Hawkins High School, Los Angeles, CA 90044, United States
Landscape ArchitectMelendrez Design Partners
The new Augustus F. Hawkins High School is part of the largest school construction building program in the history of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Located on 15.37 acres in highly urbanized South Los Angeles, the new school serves 2,025 students. The school consists of three (3) Small Learning Communities (SLC’s), each including classrooms, science labs and administration offices. Each of the learning communities shares the goal of preparing and inspiring students to become transformative leaders in South Los Angeles and the global community.
Named after “Gus” Hawkins, a Watts political leader, 12-term Assemblyman, and California's first African American elected to the United States Congress, the 4-story neighborhood high school is a high performance educational facility that was designed to relieve overcrowding at nearby schools and eliminate student busing. The school responds to LAUSD’s goal to facilitate better education through the design, construction and maintenance of healthy, safe and modern facilities that promote schools as centers of community andreflect the wise and efficient use of public funds and limited land and public resources.
Embracing the high performance concept to build healthy and sustainable schools, Augustus F. Hawkins HS was designed to meet the United States’ first green building rating program especially designed for K-12 schools. Known as theCollaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), the program sets forth criteria for the design of environmentally responsible and high performance learning spaces that promoteenergy and water efficiency, sustainable site planning and use of “green” materials. CHPS components integrated into the design of the Augustus F. Hawkins HS include:
· Limiting turf areas and using native plants and drip irrigation systems for landscaping to reduce potable water use for sewer conveyance by 35%.
· Installing operable windows and/or separate controls for each classroom to cut down on energy costs and increase occupant comfort.
· Using low-emitting health-conscious materials and products (i.e., carpets, paints, adhesives, sealants) in all classrooms and staff work areas to improve indoor air quality and reduce health related illnesses.
· Installation of a “cool roof” to reduce energy use by up to 50%.
· Designing a Central Plant to house all HVAC equipment needed to generate heating and cooling requirements for campus buildings thereby increasing energy efficiency, lowering operating costs, and generating cleaner air and providing enhanced occupant comfort.
The SLC organization of the academic buildings revolves around the verticality of the exterior main stairways that allow open interaction amongst the school and students while providing shade by stainless-steel mesh screens. The tight urban site challenged designers to maximize program and security solutions through continued verticality including locating campus basketball courts on the roof of the on-grade parking garage for staff, students and guests.
The outdoor spaces around and within the campus were designed to provide a park-like sanctuary for students and the adjacent community that conveys a collegiate landscape character. Reminiscent of many urban college campuses, the overall landscape suggests a school built within a park; tranquil and sheltered from the surrounding inner-city context. Broad, spreading canopy trees shade new pedestrian sidewalks. Spacious synthetic turf fields lie along Menlo Street, the most visually permeable edge of the site, presenting a lush green foreground for views of the campus beyond.
A Community Plaza bounded by the Academic Buildings, Multi-Purpose Building and Gymnasium Building functions as a formal receiving space for the school as well as a community amenity after school hours, allowing open internal pedestrian access to gym, library and performing arts facilities for neighborhood visitors. This centralized plaza unifies the campus SLC’s as well as its extracurricular activities and outdoor sitting areas are provided throughout the campus to encourage interaction between students. Accent paving in the form of asphalt color-coating, asphalt pavers and/or integral color tactile pavers highlight major nodes and routes of travel, aiding intuitive way-finding through the plaza with a pattern inspired by circuitry that is vital to information technology, the cornerstone of the school’s curriculum.
A sunken outdoor amphitheater with seat walls, sloped turf and bench seating provide seating up to 350 students for larger performances, while maintaining a sense of intimacy. Athletic fields and courts occupy the northernmost parts of campus, nestled within a perimeter of water-wise low growing shrubs and groundcovers. A visual corridor into the Community Plaza is punctuated by a large outdoor classroom situated within verdant green surroundings and sheltered by canopy trees.