2012 Westside Urban Forum Honor Award
Kipp: Raices Academy, an adaptive reuse project located in East Los Angeles, opened its doors to local students for grades K-4 in the summer of 2011. The existing corner lot condition consisted of a single story discount convenience store with on-grade and roof top parking. The scope of work included retrofitting the large open retail space on the ground floor and developing a new second story addition. Extensive program requirements and essential student amenities required a creative planning strategy for both interior and exterior functions. The 32,000 square foot urban infill lot houses the newly developed 24,000 square foot building comprising of 25 classrooms, a large multi-purpose room, restrooms, administrative areas, two playgrounds and a vehicular drop-off area.
Programmatically, locating the staff parking on the second floor freed up valuable exterior space for landscaping and the lower grade level playground area. Instead of rows or parked cars on black asphalt the community sees bright playground equipment, vegetation and kids playing. The student drop-off area, which is used primarily before and after school, is reclaimed as additional playground space during school hours. A additional playground area for the upper level students is located on the second floor adjacent to their classrooms.
A prerequisite of the project was that all the classrooms have natural light. This was important in order to meet Kipp’s self-imposed higher energy efficiency standards, as well as to promote a quality study environment to match their teaching philosophy that students excel in better interior environments. In order to provide natural light into the interior, “island”, classrooms, the existing concrete roof slab was punctured between concrete joists to create deep light wells. The space under these light wells has become a favorite place for afternoon reading time. With the use of day lighting, operable windows, a cool roof and a state of the art “smart” HVAC system which recycles cool air from one part of the building and takes it to the warmer parts of the building, the schools energy usage and operational costs are significantly reduced.
Each Kipp academy has a distinct color scheme. In the Raices campus case it was shades of green. The playful nature of the school is most prevalent in the dancing windows and gradient color scheme of the second floor addition. In a graphical sense, piano keys come to mind when looking at the elevation. The staggered windows and cantilevered second story addition give movement and diversity to the corner lot development.