Green Dot Animo Leadership High School

Green Dot Animo Leadership High School, Los Angeles, Brooks Scarpa
Construction year: 2013
Address: 11044 South Freeman Avenue, Inglewood | LOS ANGELES-CALIFORNIA | United States
Latitude/Longitude: 33.934834, -118.347621

This new 53,000 $17 million Green Dot Animo Leadership High School for 500 students is located in a tough South Los Angeles neighborhood almost directly under the flight path into LAX and adjacent to the very busy 105 Century freeway. 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 southern climate without using air conditioning, creating sustainable light filled and poetic spaces for kids to learn.

Similarly, this project is designed to enhance passive sustainable strategies. It allows for abundant natural light, ventilation, and view, while shading itself and inducing airflow.  The south facade is clad with 650 solar panels that shade the building and provides 75% of the energy needs of the school. Implementing these strategies will reduce carbon emissions by over 3 million pounds.

With a project certification under California High-Performance Schools (CHPS) and possible LEED Certification; 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 on the primary use site. Instead, a landscaped courtyard with multifunctional “bleacher” terracing flows into the open-air covered lobby and the multilayered paseo, lending the school the appeal of a collegiate campus and offering significant environmental benefits—improving daylighting 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.

Planning Strategies – Like the Curtis & Davis school from 1953 (above) in New Orleans the new charter school takes advantage of a difficult small urban site to employ maximum passive planning strategies and connected social space. Some strategies include:

1. Long east-west orientation provides maximum southern exposure.
2. Single loaded classrooms for maximum cross ventilation and daylighting.
3.  Thin long floor plates provide shading to kids outdoor play yard and the north building.
4.  Plan displacement faces into prevailing breezes inducing air-flow thru central space and classrooms.
5.  Circulation is organized to provide movement between class and social space for maximum student interaction.

The Solar Wall

The 650 Solar panels built into the south facade will produce nearly 100% of the building’s energy and will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 3 million pounds.

The heat-stacking effect induced by the placement of the panels will also provide enhanced natural ventilation and cooling of the building.

Principal In Charge: Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA
Project Architect: Angela Brooks, AIA, Mark Buckland, Ching Luk
Project Design Team: Brad Buter, Silke Clemens, Emily Hodgdon, Gwynne Pugh, Sri Sumantri
Engineering: Thorton Thomassetti-Structural
Area: 53500.0 ft2

Contributed by Brooks + Scarpa

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