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Campbell Hall is an independent, coeducational K-12 day school in Los Angeles that sits on a triangular-shaped piece of land between the Ventura Freeway and the Tujunga Wash, a Los Angeles river tributary. Having increased its population to over 1,000 students, the school recently acquired land to expand the campus.
Gensler and its multidisciplinary design team helped Campbell Hall reconfigure the campus’ existing traffic circulation to improve safety and encourage walking. The team also developed a holistic, phased plan for future building development. The first building phase, and the primary topic of this article, included a new 175-car, two-level underground parking structure and a 37,000 square foot two-story Arts & Education Center. A future Phase II will include a 650-seat theater immediately adjacent to the Center; and finally, a 45,000 square foot gymnasium will cap off Phase III.
This design case will discuss the process that led to the Arts & Education Center design in general, as well as how the design team approached several specific project issues. First, the team faced a design program that exceeded the project’s site, whose vehicular access was problematic. Secondly, a significant existing feature that impacted many of team’s design decisions was the bar-shaped classroom buildings designed by noted mid-century modernist architect A. Quincy Jones. The shape and arrangement of these buildings formed the basis of the Arts & Education Center’s “interstitial” outdoor spaces—flexible learning, socializing and circulation areas that promote informal interaction among students and faculty while forming a physical and symbolic link between the new and old parts of the campus. Third, the project’s landscape design was ultimately shaped by “value engineering” or cost cutting measures. Through the strength of multidisciplinary collaboration, the design team overcame these hurdles and produced a solution yielding a safer, denser campus with a greater sense of community than had existed before.