Ramon C. Cortines High School of Performing Arts

Part of a wave of construction revitalizing downtown Los Angeles, this project distinctively marks one end of the Grand Avenue Corridor, linking the local arts community with some of the city’s most notable cultural and architectural landmarks, including the Colburn School of Music, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The school addresses the context with unique and dynamic forms that celebrate the architectural distinction of the area and preserves the urban edge with a strong architectural statement while creating a protected interior space dedicated to educating the school’s students.

By using the symbolic quality of the fly-tower as an icon for the theater and performing arts building, the school is given a strong visual presence within its urban environment setting and serves as a key point of integration for weaving together the public and the students. A ceremonial entrance along Grand Avenue welcomes the community in the form of a grand staircase leading across a courtyard to a crystalline lobby that serves as both the theater gateway and an exhibition area for student work. To enhance security, public access is at pedestrian grade while classroom facilities are above street level.