Frederick Fisher & Partners

Science Education & Research Facility, Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences

Santa Monica, USA - 2016
30. January 2017

Science Education & Research Facility, Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences

2016
Santa Monica, California

Client
Crossroads School for Art and Sciences 

Architect
Frederick Fisher & Partners
Los Angeles, CA

Design Principal
Frederick Fisher, AIA, FAAR

Project Architect
Joseph Coriaty, AIA

Project Managers
Hector Semidey, Mandi Roberts, Chris Conolly, Tim House

Project Team
Takashige Ikawa, Marisa Kurtzman, Sean Anderson, Patrick Gurley, Nate Lentz

Structural Engineer
Englekirk Associates

MEP/FP Engineer
Buro Happold

Landscape Architect
Pamela Burton

Lighting Designer
Patrick B. Quigley & Associates

Interior Designer
Frederick Fisher

Contractor
Morley Benchmark Builders

Construction Manager
Elaine Nesbit, Project Manager for Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences

Artist, Special Projects Pavilion
Ned Kahn

Acoustics/AV
Veneklasen Associates

Civil Engineer
KPFF Engineering

Laboratory Planning Consultant
Jacobs Consultancy

Sustainability Consultant
Zinner Consultants

Site Area
8,500 sf

Building Area
25,000 sf

Photographs
Jeremy Bitterman

Drawings
Frederick Fisher & Partners
Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences' new Science Education & Research Facility has a very "LA" site: one side fronts a busy street and another backs up against a six-lane highway. This condition led Frederick Fisher and Partners to turn inward, creating a courtyard anchored by the Special Projects Pavilion, a striking volume made from rammed earth and topped with a sculptural awning. The architects answered a few questions about the building.
North elevation
Please provide an overview of the project.
This new 25,000-square-foot science, education, and research facility is an interactive center for learning science and art at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences. It is designed with two distinct facades that are reflective of its urban landscape and campus plan. Designed with wide circulation and outdoor lounges, interactive learning is fostered not only inside the building, but is extended to the surrounding campus. There are twelve science classrooms for the Upper/Middle School, three prep-rooms, a Ned Kahn hyperbolic parabolic sculpture, and a Special Projects Pavilion featuring an outdoor living laboratory. Art and science are clearly integrated; in fact, the pavilion walls are embedded with fossil lines including a Megalodon tooth that dates as far back as 30 million years.
Pavilion
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
Fostering learning inside and out of the new Crossroads Science building is at the heart of this project. Collaborative and interactive learning are carefully integrated in the program to create opportunities for serendipitous encounters, student-staff and faculty integration, and interdisciplinary learning between classes. The building is intentionally designed with:
  • broad circulation to provide moments of rest for casual conversations;
  • wide balconies overlooking campus courtyard that foster impromptu cross-pollination of students, staff and faculty;
  • open and enclosed learning spaces to provide areas that invite public discussions or intimate conversations;
  • visual accessibility of spaces also invites the viewer to engage in the conversation/class;
  • interdisciplinary break out spaces in the town square or balconies to foster learning outside a formal classroom.
Courtyard

Additionally, the building is a collaboration between art and design. Multiple opportunities on each level articulate not only the beauty in science, but the science behind the art. Examples include:
  • the pavilion roof structure provides shade, and acts as an art piece shaped into a hyperbolic paraboloid;
  • 1,296 wind-animated vanes mounted to the cable net create a dynamic map of the ratio of wind forces to gravitational forces;
  • displayed on the gender-neutral bathroom tiles are beautiful mosaics that map human atoms;
  • a new courtyard at the ground level visually displays the diminishing numbers of monarch butterflies that directly ties to a roof-top garden featuring landscaping that monarch butterflies live on.
Pavilion
Finally, the new Special Projects Pavilion provides a focal point and a central gathering place for the campus. Essentially, a new “town square” highlights the various activities of the students and faculty, while providing a place for them to cross-pollinate and interact in a public forum. The students discover new uses for the building and the surrounding courtyard weekly. The facility’s butterfly garden is also a central gathering place in their beloved “Alley.” It is the new home for performances, presentations and demonstrations, including a Black Lives Matter vigil held by Middle Schoolers last spring.
Alley
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
The new science building is a direct and innovative response to the urban neighborhood by providing much-needed protection from the elements while being visually beautiful. With two sides of the building facing large traffic volumes — the 10 Freeway and 20th Street — the new poché walls and concrete barriers minimize noise and provide power to the building with photovoltaic cells embedded in the paneling. On the campus side of the building, the façade undulates to provide pockets for seating and meeting as well as defines the new “town square” for the campus. No one side is the same, but seamlessly blends together to create an interactive hub for campus activity.
West elevation
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?
The project progressed and changed dramatically throughout the design process. Although the building was initiated with a science and research focus, it has clearly become much more. The building is an important focal point to the campus, and has quickly become the campus heart. Students and faculty are discovering new ways of using the building every week. During the planning, the campus expressed the need to teach sciences in a new way. Program flexibility was key. The flexibility allowed teachers to teach their classes in any manner that they thought best. With classrooms that could be easily expanded, joined, or virtually connected – each teacher was not bound by the confines of the classroom. Additionally, community meetings with the Pico Neighborhood created a unique summer science and art program that opened up the building to neighboring schools to take advantage of this new learning environment.
Community
 
The projects’ success is a result of the clear integration of the community needs, verbal and written feedback. In fact, the students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities were actively involved with the project from start. The students took on an unusual role by participating in brainstorming sessions, but then physically creating parts of the building, such as the hand selected fossils embedded in the Special Projects Pavilion. 
Bathroom
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
GENDER-NEUTRAL BATHROOMS
The gender-neutral restrooms in the Crossroad Science Building not only reflect the school’s progressive thinking and liberal viewpoints to learning environments, but they are openly designed with unique entries and graphics to blur the boundary between interior and exterior. The restrooms are separated from the main walkway only by a partial screen wall with a communal hand washing area openly located in the center. A change of materials from the wooden deck to ceramic tiles are displayed to distinguish interior from exterior and also mimic the molecular structure of the human body.
Classroom
SUSTAINABILITY
Working closely with the landscape designer, the team created a roof-top garden with foliage that would attract monarch butterflies for students to research, study, and protect. It is strategically placed to align with the flight path of the monarch butterfly. Outdoor seating is generously dispersed throughout the garden to create another social gathering place for students to relax, cross-pollinate, and learn the science behind the dwindling monarch butterfly population. Visually, tying the ground floor with the rooftop garden, the courtyard is engraved with the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly, and visually documents the history of their decline.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.
First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan
Third Floor Plan
Roof Plan

Science Education & Research Facility, Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences

2016
Santa Monica, California

Client
Crossroads School for Art and Sciences 

Architect
Frederick Fisher & Partners
Los Angeles, CA

Design Principal
Frederick Fisher, AIA, FAAR

Project Architect
Joseph Coriaty, AIA

Project Managers
Hector Semidey, Mandi Roberts, Chris Conolly, Tim House

Project Team
Takashige Ikawa, Marisa Kurtzman, Sean Anderson, Patrick Gurley, Nate Lentz

Structural Engineer
Englekirk Associates

MEP/FP Engineer
Buro Happold

Landscape Architect
Pamela Burton

Lighting Designer
Patrick B. Quigley & Associates

Interior Designer
Frederick Fisher

Contractor
Morley Benchmark Builders

Construction Manager
Elaine Nesbit, Project Manager for Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences

Artist, Special Projects Pavilion
Ned Kahn

Acoustics/AV
Veneklasen Associates

Civil Engineer
KPFF Engineering

Laboratory Planning Consultant
Jacobs Consultancy

Sustainability Consultant
Zinner Consultants

Site Area
8,500 sf

Building Area
25,000 sf

Photographs
Jeremy Bitterman

Drawings
Frederick Fisher & Partners

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