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Ambassador Site / Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools

New Schools for LAUSD's - RFK Community Schools

All schools are open.  There are six schools on the site:   one elementary (grades K through 3),   two high schools (grades 9 through 12),   two span schools spanning grades K through 12,   one span school spanning grades 6 through 12.   Once all grades are filled, a total of 3,800 students is expected.   These are "pilot schools," a hybrid between regular schools of the district and charter schools. For more information go to http://rfkcommunityschools.org/   Two police officers will be assigned to the site, and will conduct morning and afternoon rounds. 

There is also a new public park along Wilshire Blvd. in front of the school called the Robert F Kennedy Inspiration Park.  All you have to do is read the quotes on the wall or sit on one of the two talking benches to find out why it's called the RFK INSPIRATION Park. 

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2010/09/first-day-school-lausd-new-578-million-rfk-complex in this link there is some great pictures of the inside the RFK Complex and nice comments from the first students to use the Complex.

The $571-million campus, located on the site of the famed Ambassador Hotel, is designed by Gonzalez Goodale Architects of Pasadena.  When the middle school and high school buildings are completed in 2010, the campus will be one of the largest in the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as its first new comprehensive K-12 campus. It will serve more than 4,000 students living in the surrounding nine-block radius who are currently bused to distant, overcrowded schools, helping to fulfill the LAUSD's goal of having students live and learn in the same community. The new campus will also alleviate overcrowding and enable a return to the traditional two-semester calendar, rather than the current yearlong school calendar.

The K-5 building is approximately 92,000 square feet and contains 44 classrooms in a two-story structure. It is located at the southwest corner of the Ambassador Hotel site, with the main entrance along 8 th Street. Construction on the K-5 building began in March 2007. The middle school and high school buildings will contain 130 classrooms in 452,000 square feet.

The 24-acre Ambassador Hotel complex was designed in 1921 by Myron Hunt, the renowned Los Angeles architect who also designed the Rose Bowl, Caltech and Hollywood Bowl, among other projects. The Spanish-Mediterranean style hotel, which was a favorite of 20th century Hollywood, Presidents, and other dignitaries, was demolished in 2006 after decades of disuse. A rigorous structural and cost analysis determined that the budget impacts of a full adaptive reuse of the property would have added a very heavy premium to the construction cost and would have been dysfunctional as a facility for education.

The historic and design significance of the site created a number of interesting challenges and opportunities, according to David Goodale, AIA, design principal of Goodale Gonzalez, which was awarded the design contract. "The design solution was charged with mapping the historic diagram of the site with the needs of a wholly contemporary educational campus based on the LAUSD's desired Small Learning Community (SLC) pedagogy, which breaks large, urban schools into smaller, more intimate learning communities of 500 students," says Goodale. "Our solution successfully addressed the programmatic and expressive goals, using the original 'figure/ground' of the hotel campus as the skeleton of the new K-12 campus and replacing the iconic Wilshire Boulevard presence of a hotel with an iconic presence of transparent classrooms."

The resulting design is a vibrant collection of buildings and open spaces that will inspire students while also engaging the entire community. The architects employed a recurring vocabulary of transparency (in particular in the buildings' entries), zinc roofs, perforated metal and open flanking stairs, creating an interplay between a contemporary exploration of materials and the classical composition of the site.

When possible, Gonzalez Goodale incorporated elements of the famous hotel in the new design. For example, the hotel's legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub is slated to become a 574-seat auditorium/lecture hall and the hotel's 1940's era Paul R. Williams-designed coffee shop will serve as a teachers' lounge. The intricate vaulted ceiling of the hotel's Embassy Ballroom (the site of Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 assassination) was reconstructed for a 12,706 square foot library for the middle school and high school students that will house a collection of Kennedy memorabilia. The Ambassador Hotel's iconic Wilshire-facing façade is echoed in the look of a new classroom tower that will be visible from Wilshire Boulevard and in the use of the original sign pylon of the hotel that anchors the northwest corner of the site.

The physically integrated campus relies on virtual borders made possible by the site's topography to satisfy security needs. The varied topography also allowed the architects to give each of three school buildings a distinct identity. The two-story K-5 building is at street level and its siting places it farthest away from busy Wilshire Boulevard. The high school building occupies the high ground to the north and its central great lawn will serve as the ceremonial center of the site for graduations. The middle school building entry is located on a lower street level. Not only does this varied topography become a visual metaphor for students' experience of "going up" through the grade levels, but it also provides a vital safety and traffic function by allowing for separate entrances for each of the three schools on their own sides of the site. The three distinct school communities are linked by shared common cultural and recreational facilities, including soccer fields, a 25-meter swimming pool, two gymnasiums and the library. These facilities will also be available for use to members of the surrounding community.

"The beauty of GGA's plan is that it allows for joint use of the facilities by the entire student body and the community at large," says Eugene Aguirre, Senior Design Manager, Los Angeles Unified School District. "Yet it is also flexible enough to allow for more intimate zones for use by smaller groups of students. One example is the amphitheatre with a movable wall on the exterior of the lower school's multi-purpose room that can be raised or lowered to allow for different-sized gatherings of the school community."

The campus includes a new public park that will bring much-needed green space to one of Los Angeles' most dense urban neighborhoods.  The Kennedy Inspiration Park occupies a 19,000-square-foot section of the site fronting Wilshire Boulevard.  The park slopes downward from the busy street, preserving views of the school buildings from the street, terminating in a focal stainless steel wall designed by artists May Sun and Richard Wyatt. The rectangular sheet is etched with an image of Robert F. Kennedy in sandstone and displays an array of inspiring quotes from champions of social justice. The idea is to create a space that encourages contemplation of Kennedy's legacy of social justice. The park also provides spaces for eating lunch, playing chess and quiet contemplation.

Kennedy's legacy is honored in several other public art pieces, including a major installation at the entry to the library, a mural in the library and a mural at the foot of an amphitheater that descends from the steps of the high school building towards the multipurpose space of the K-5 building. The school's rich public art program is unique for a Los Angeles public school.

Designed and built to reflect the latest "green" building methods and materials, this Learning Center exceeds the strict environmental standards set by the CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools). It scored 36 points on the CHPS scale, well above the 28-minimum for CHIPS recognition. The campus is the first in California to employ a technology called thermal displacement ventilation (TDV) in which air is delivered from the lower portion of the walls, rather than from the ceiling. The upward flow of air results in a more efficient form of air-cooling and also improves air quality and reduces germs in the air, which in turn leads to fewer sick days for students, preserving more revenue for the school. A full glass curtain wall facade on the north face of the high school building maximizes natural light in the classrooms, which reduces energy costs and also has been shown to improve academic performance.

"We hope that this project will serve as an inspiration not only to the students and teachers that work and learn here, but also as model of what is possible in terms of creating a community-serving institution that will enrich the entire neighborhood," says Armando L. Gonzalez, FAIA, principal of Gonzalez Goodale Architects.

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