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Central Los Angeles High school features dramatic modern architecture designed by Wolf D. Prix and the Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau. There's no doubt this high school holds a place in debates over urbanism, planning, and architectural patronage in Los Angeles.
Fifteen years ago, LAUSD launched a $20 billion construction campaign, which included a new high school along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, a neighborhood where existing schools had grown incredibly overcrowded. How important should architecture be to a city's urban development, and the design of schools specifically? Shouldn't campuses be both economical and appealing in design, rather than one or the other?
Katherine Harrison, the school’s executive director puts it like this, “The striking character of the buildings attract a great deal of attention to the school which is alternately welcome and unwelcome. Either way, we run the risk of the building somehow defining the school’s mission rather than the educational needs of students and the community we serve.”
Despite the continuing debates over design and budget, the beauty of both the interior and exterior architecure is hard to ignore.
The auditorium (above) is a show stopper in itself. The 950-seat theater is state-of-the-art and features a tower rising from its iconic roof. Bold, colorful seating provides any modern space added character. Give this chair a try in your modern home for the same effect.
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Minimal lighting, with just the use of downlights, allows for the interior architecture to have the main spotlight. Here is a suggestion for achieving this simple, yet effective lighting aesthetic.
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Prix’s decision to design the whole composition in concrete and aluminum panels no doubt makes the school stand out in Los Angeles.
This image demonstrates its proximity to the downtown freeway system, the featured character in the story of Los Angeles should its urban development be turned into a script.
Despite the difficulty completing this project and the debates that continue to hover around it, there is no questioning the noteworthy appeal of the architecture and the impact it has on the city's overall design development.
Images: Coop Himmelblau
Quote: Metropolis Magazine
Debating Modern Architecture: Central Los Angeles High School
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