Central Los Angeles Area High School #9, the city’s flagship high school for the performing and visual arts, opened its 335,172-square-foot campus to its first class of 1,600 students this past September after completing construction the previous October. The campus incorporates three sculptural structures designed to house the school’s public programs, utilizing a rainscreen cladding system and Reynobond ACM materials to create a uniform distinction between each one’s unique form while simultaneously communicating the building’s purpose.
The Los Angeles Unified School District wanted to create a campus that was as expressive architecturally as its students were in their performance and artistic studies. The district commissioned Vienna, Austria-based architecture firm Coop Himmelb(L)au to design the campus, with HMC Architects of Los Angeles serving as the executive architect for the project. PCL Construction Services, also of Los Angeles, served as the general contractor for the project and the Riverside Group, Rochester, N.Y., oversaw the R4-300 installation of the rainscreen cladding systems by Orange, Calif.–based Custom Metal Fabricators.
Coop Himmelb(L)au’s design centers the campus around the library, which is placed in the middle of the school’s courtyard and rises as a slanted, truncated, asymmetrical cone visible from the school’s main entrance. The second sculpture, the theater lobby, serves as the public entrance to the school and theater and integrates the campus into the culturally rich Grand Avenue corridor – home to the acclaimed Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The tower includes a spiraling ramp, intended to serve as the tower’s second exit, in the shape of the number “9,” the school’s title. The tower connects the school visually and formally with downtown Los Angeles and, in conjunction with the cathedral’s tower, is intended to be a visual landmark for the city. Inside the tower is an event, conference and exhibition space with a view of the city’s skyline.
The grey velvet ACM was installed on all academy and art building façades. Reynobond Natural Brushed Aluminum Composite was installed on the skylights and at various locations on the library, theater and academy buildings. Reynobond Natural Stainless Steel Composite was installed on the exterior of the lobby, the lobby canopy and pop-out windows.
The architects chose to use Eastman, Ga. -based Alcoa Architectural Products’ Reynobond ACM materials for aesthetic and practical reasons. Having previously used the natural brushed aluminum Reynobond panels on the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio, the architect was satisfied with them aesthetically, technically and quality-wise, and wanted to incorporate them into this project as well.
The rainscreen system provides clean joint detailing and has no exposed fasteners. Additionally, the separation of building layers allows each layer to be more intact relative to its function. Panels were installed using a spline installation system, making them easily replaceable. They also could be folded around corners, making them ideal for the project’s aesthetic goals. Because of the variety of finishes of the Reynobond products, they could be used on several buildings while maintaining the intended differences of form and material between the structures.
The Riverside Group, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, fabricated 34,800 square feet of Reynobond ACM, 4 mm FR core, gray velvet with a Valspar finish; 13,000 square feet of Reynobond natural stainless steel composite material, 4 mm, FR core with a clear Valspar finish; and 32,000 square feet of Reynobond natural brushed aluminum material, 4-mm, FR core with a clear Valspar finish.