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Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School, Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles, California
 
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Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School
Green Dot Public Schools
Los Angeles, California
Situated in what was previously a two-story office building in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, this new charter school uses creative design elements to fit programmatic needs into a tight, 1.09-acre urban site.
The existing circulation spine of the building had to be removed in order to fit the number of classrooms required by the school’s program. The design team capitalized on this element in order to get the most out of the design. The new exterior circulation is accented with bright colors, and decorative canopies, handrails and screening, providing the main aesthetic of the campus. Walkways are generously apportioned in order to double as outdoor gathering areas.
Existing arched windows and brick were transformed. In some instances, the windows were turned into doors. Repurposing the openings allowed the rich character of the existing building to remain intact.
Everything on this site was designed to be flexible, and the classrooms were no exception. Three classrooms on the lower level contain movable partition walls, and can be transformed into a multi-purpose room for school events.
The site itself is leveraged to meet the outdoor needs of this school. Half of the parking can be closed off during school hours, and doubles as secure, outdoor space for students. Tensile canopies cover a portion of the outdoor area, and provide a respite for lunch as well as other outdoor learning opportunities.
The result is an ambitious program that fits into a compact site and modest structure.