The Berggruen Institute unveiled plans for a new campus in Los Angeles designed by Herzog & de Meuron and supported by Gensler as executive architect. The campus master plan and its design respond to both the Berggruen Institute’s desire to respect and restore the landscape of its 447-acre site—over 90% of which will be preserved as open space—and the Institute’s intention to create a private educational forum where distinguished scholars can interact with thought leaders.
A landscape vision as much as an architectural project, the design of Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with Michel Desvigne Paysagiste and Inessa Hansch calls for the Berggruen Institute to concentrate development within previously graded areas, and thereby limits topographic changes. The principal site for the campus will be a long mountain ridge that was scraped and flattened in the 1980s to cap a landfill. The design envisions the ridge being restored and transformed into a linear park or gardened plinth, landscaped with drought-resistant plants and incorporating the collection, filtration and re-use of water.
A Scholars’ Campus
The principal facility of the main campus, built at the far southern end of the site’s eastern ridge, is a horizontal structure, referred to as the Frame, which hovers 12 feet above ground level, supported by just a few elements. At its center, the Institute building features a large courtyard garden. The hovering structure frames and contains the courtyard garden while at the same time allowing for views of the city and nature beyond. Within the Frame, the Institute’s main functions of studying, living and convening are accommodated in one level with occasional mezzanine spaces.
A sphere nestled within the open courtyard houses a 250-seat lecture hall within its base or bowl. As the tallest structure on the Berggruen Institute campus, the sphere rises approximately 45 feet above the roofline of the Frame. A second, smaller sphere, which sits atop the Frame, serves as a water storage tank. The total floor area of the Frame, including the lecture hall, is approximately 137,000 square feet. The Institute Frame accommodates a total of 26 Scholars-in-Residence units and 14 Visiting Scholars units.
To the north of the Frame, a Scholar Village occupies the central area of the Institute ridge, with approximately 26,000 square feet of residential use for scholars and guests, as well as support services and recreational facilities. A total of 15 units for scholars are built on either side of a wide, landscaped promenade, with courtyard residences recessed into the landscape. Each unit features extensive outdoor spaces including entrance courts and living gardens, designed as extensions of the indoor areas.
The third and last main area, occupying its northern end, is the site of the Chairman’s Residence, a 26,000-square-foot compound that includes a library, conference room, dining and catering facilities and staff quarters, as well as residential areas. A series of adjacent landscaped terraces blends indoor and outdoor space for this single-story structure. Immediately north of the Chairman’s Residence, a heavily landscaped area and gardens serve as a buffer zone between the Institute and the neighboring MountainGate community, 250 feet away. Source and image, Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron.