- Structural Engineering:Nabih Youssef
- Kitchen:Kitchen Professionals
- Art:Friedrich Kunath
- Client:The Center for Early Education
- Cost Estimation:MGAC
- City:West Hollywood
- Country:United States
Text description provided by the architects. The Center for Early Education was founded in 1939 and has been located on its current site since 1946. The Center is a socio-economically and culturally diverse independent school for children, including toddlers through grade six – a ten year experience from start to finish. Having expanded incrementally over the years, the time arrived for the school to invest in its future on a site it had committed to remaining. The school purchased adjacent property and created a master plan that established the parameters of a three-and-a-half-year construction project to rebuild two-thirds of its existing campus and expand it.
While doubling in size, the campus at completion will only have grown from one and a half acres to two and a half acres in a city where most elementary schools half their size reside on as many as five or six acres. Two new buildings attach to an existing third building to create a single four-story building. The rebuilt school will occupy 10,000 SF and house approximately 540 students and 110 faculty and staff members. The new campus includes a gymnasium, auditorium, classrooms for early education, lower, and upper elementary grades, STEAM classroom, labs and maker spaces, parent work, meeting, and social spaces, rooftop playgrounds, and a central play field – all on top of a 185-car subterranean parking garage. The project is a model of compact development as an urban campus in a rapidly urbanizing area of southern California.
The architecture of the school engages a busy commercial arterial on one side and a neighborhood street no the other. It is inspired by the spontaneous expression of children’s art – folded and cut-out paper, alphabet building blocks, brightly colored surfaces, and simplified profiles of things found in nature like trees and flowers.
The recently completed first new building – the “La Cienega Building” – faces onto a busy commercial arterial running north to south from West Hollywood into Los Angeles. At ground level, a 90 FT long vitrine houses a public installation by world-renowned artist, Friedrich Kunath, who worked with Center students to create the piece for dedication to the West Hollywood Urban Art Program. At upper levels, parent work and social spaces, such as the multi-purpose meeting room and third floor terrace, orient out to La Cienega Boulevard.
The second new building – the “Clinton Building”– currently in construction, will house all the early education programs at the ground floor, with kindergarten, first and second grades at the second floor, administration at the third floor, and rooftop playgrounds at the fourth floor. This building will serve as the main entrance to the entire school and will feature a five-story atrium that connects a vestibule at the new below grade parking garage to the rooftop playgrounds at the fourth floor.