Emerson College Los Angeles by Morphosis Architects

Morphosis has completed a new Hollywood campus for arts school Emerson College in Los Angeles and Saturday, March 8 will celebrate the grand opening.
Located in the heart of Hollywood, the new facility establishes a permanent home on Sunset Boulevard for EmersonCollege’s existing undergraduate internship program that will extend the ELA experience to students studying in any of the seven disciplines that are offered through the School of Communication and the School of the Arts.
The new facility will also host workshops, lectures, and other events to engage with alumni and the LA community. Bringing student housing, instructional facilities, and administrative offices to one location, ELA condenses the diversity of a college campus into an urban site. Housing up to 217 students, the domestic zones frame a dynamic core dedicated to creativity, learning, and social interaction.
Composed of two slender residential towers bridged by a multi-use platform, the 10-story square frame encloses a central open volume to create a flexible outdoor “room.” A sculpted form housing classrooms and administrative offices weaves through the void, defining multi-level terraces and active interstitial spaces that foster informal social activity and creative cross-pollination.
Looking out onto the multi-level terrace, exterior corridors to student suites and common rooms are shaded by an undulating, textured metal scrim spanning the full height of the towers’ interior face. Looking to the local context, the center finds a provocative precedent in the interiority of Hollywood film studios, where outwardly regular facades house flexible, fantastical spaces within.
With rigging for screens, media connections, sound, and lighting incorporated into the framework, the upper platform serves as a flexible armature for outdoor performances, transforming the undulating scrim into a dynamic visual backdrop.
The entire building becomes a stage set for student films, screenings, and industry events, with the Hollywood sign, the city of Los Angeles, and the Pacific Ocean in the distance providing added scenery. Anticipated to achieve a LEED Gold rating, the new center champions Emerson’s commitment to both sustainable design and community responsibility.
Defining the building’s facades to the East and West, the residential towers feature an active exterior skin. Responding to local weather conditions, the automated sunshade system opens and closes horizontal fins outside the high-performance glass curtain-wall to minimize heat gain while maximizing daylight and views.
Further green initiatives include the use of recycled and rapidly renewable building materials, installation of efficient fixtures to reduce water use by 40%, energy savings in heating and cooling through a passive valence system, developed by Buro Happold, and a building management and commissioning infrastructure to monitor and optimize efficiency of all systems.
Additional green design initiatives include: the use of recycled and rapidly renewable building materials; installation of efficient water-saving fixtures; a high-performance glass curtainwall to minimize heat gain; landscaping and a living green wall; and a central management infrastructure to monitor overall building efficiency.
Location: Los Angeles, USA 
Architects: Morphosis 
Design Director: Thom Mayne 
Principal & Project Manager: Kim Groves 
Project Architect: Aaron Ragan 
Lead Project Designer: Chandler Ahrens 
Project Designer: Shanna Yates 
Project Team: Natalia Traverso Caruana, Brock Hinze, Yasushi Ishida, Jai Kumaran 
Project Assistant: Katsuya Arai, Marco Becucci, Chris Bennett, Cory Brugger, Amaranta Campos, Joe Filippelli, Alex Fritz, Penny Herscovitch, Hunter Knight, Zach Main, Jon McAllister, Nicole Meyer, Cameron Northrop, Brandon Sampson, Scott Smith, Michael Smith, Satoru Sugihara, Ben Toam, Elizabeth Wendell 
Development Consultant: Robert Silverman 
Structural Engineer: John A. Martin Associates, Inc. 
MEP Engineer: Buro Happold 
Civil Engineer: KPFF 
Landscape Consultant: Katherine Spitz Associates 
Information Technology & BIM Implementation: Synthesis 
Lighting Consultant: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc. 
Theater Consultant: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander 
Acoustic Consultant: Newson Brown Associates LLC 
Facade Consultant: A. Zahner Architectural Metals, JA Weir Associates 
LEED Consultant: Davis Langdon 
Geotechnical Consultant: Geotechnologies Inc. 
Sustainability: Davis Langdon 
General Contractor: Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company 
Exterior Building Maintenance: Olympique 
Site Area: 0.8 acres / 0.3 hectares 
Size: 120,000 gross sq ft / 11,148 gross sq m 
Year: 2014 
Client: Emerson College 
Photo: Iwan Baan, Roland Halbe

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