ANIMO LEADERSHIP GREEN DOT CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL
A new small site urban infill public charter high school for 500 students located in a tough, dense and economically depressed area of unincorporated Los Angeles County, California. It is also located almost directly under the flight path into LAX and adjacent to the very busy 105 Century freeway. The area was a central trouble spot during the 1964 Watts Riots. Fair Housing and school busing has plagued the area since the early 60’s where median family income is less than $35,000/year and 25% of the population lives below the poverty level.
The design was influenced by the New Orleans architects Curtis and Davis who designed and built many schools in the early 1950s in Louisiana. Their designs adapted to the harsh local climate without using air conditioning, creating sustainable light filled and poetic spaces for kids to learn. The building is meant to serve as a blueprint and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy high performance schools.
Designed to enhance passive sustainable strategies, this project allows for abundant natural light, ventilation and views, while the form is shaped to shade itself and inducing airflow. The south facade is clad with a 650 solar panels (126kw system) that shades the building and provides nearly 75% of the energy needs for the school. Implementing these strategies will reduce carbon emissions over the building’s lifespan by over 3 million pounds.
Certified under the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS, www.chps.net); aesthetics, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness were considered in every design decision. Taking full advantage of the region’s temperate climate, the designers eschewed the fully contained “big box” idiom of conventional schools. Instead, a landscaped courtyard with multi-functional bleacher flows into the open-air lobby and the multilayered courtyard, lending the school the appeal of a collegiate campus and offering significant environmental benefits—improving day-lighting and access to fresh air both inside and out—while providing substantial cost savings by limiting artificial lighting and thermal conditioning to the smaller enclosed spaces.
The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild climate with a passive cooling strategy using cross-ventilation, a large roof overhangs, cool roofs and shaping the building and courtyards to take advantage of the sunny location. A commitment to minimizing the project's ecological footprint informed all aspects of the design.