The Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) has produced well-known alumni such as singer Josh Groban and actor Jenna Elfman. But, for the last 28 years, students and staff had to juggle their school days among five different buildings they shared with California State University L.A. Until now.
As a haven for the study of visual and performing arts, LACHSA needed a space of its own conducive to creative expression. So, HMC designed a new building that has a black-box theater, along with a cinematic arts studio and 21 loft-style classrooms, most of which double as dance studios. Classrooms are located at the ground entry level, with larger art studios on the second floor. An outdoor amphitheater for informal performances is built into the hillside. The black-box theater is clad in reflective glazing and paired with dramatic lighting to transform it from a daytime workspace into a nighttime performance area. LACHSA’s prominent location and eye-catching design is intended to help define the school’s identity and promote the learning that happens within. And for a school that relies on donations to fund its art programs, having high visibility and prominence on CSULA’s campus serves to help that cause. LACHSA is certified LEED silver and features a green roof with drip irrigation and native plants, abundant natural light, water-efficient plumbing, and an energy management system. It’s now a place where gifted young people come together in an inspiring and nurturing setting—one that serves as a spotlight shining on the importance of investing in arts education.