Architect firm for L.A. presents plan to trustees

by Beacon Staff • March 25, 2009

Along with the Hollywood sign and a famous Chinese theater, Emerson students arriving in Los Angeles could someday see a helipad and a mechanical bridge-right within their own building.

These, as well as other features, were shown in the diagrams created by architect Thom Mayne and his firm during his presentation to the Board of Trustees on March 19, where he discussed where the building would be located, its layout, and a few of the features it would offer.

"We've set the groundwork of the project," he said. "We understand the nature of the program. [The site] seems more than appropriate for your school."

According to plans presented by Mayne, the new L.A. center will be located on Sunset Boulevard and have the capacity to house 225 students with 180 to 190 rooms, mostly singles.

The first level of the building will be parking and the second and third levels will contain administrative offices and classrooms. Housing will occupy floors four through ten, with other offices and classrooms on the fifth floor. The building will also contain terraces, a mechanical bridge on levels nine and 10, a helipad on the roof, a large film screen within the building and a grand staircase that stretches from levels three to eight.

The center will also hold a coffee shop and convenience store.

Mayne is a founder of the L.A.-based architect firm Morphosis. His firm was chosen by an Emerson selection committee after Emerson bought a parking lot on Sunset Boulevard as the site for the new center in March 2008.

"We were looking for more than a competent architect," President Jacqueline Liebergott told the Board of Trustees. "We wanted to find a designer that could meet the academic and residential needs of the college in L.A."

Mayne is known for his environmentally friendly buildings-his San Francisco Federal Building uses only 33 percent of energy used by a typical California office building. He expects the L.A. center to continue in this tradition.

Members of the Board of trustees were excited about the plans for the new building.

"It's very exciting," said Jeff Greenhawt, treasurer of the Board of Trustees, in an interview with The Beacon. "We're constructing a building that's functional and instructional. We're putting the building in a city that's a creative center."

Current L.A. students have mixed feelings about the project. Senior Kerem Bursin thinks now is the time to build the center.

"I think the program is absolutely fantastic right now, but I think that[...]opportunities could be advanced," the marketing communication major said. "Prices are lower than they've been in five or six years. It's a good time to buy the land and build on it."

Senior Danny Madden said he was uncertain about the necessity of others, and isn't sure if the current economic crisis is the best time to be starting new projects.

"I think [the center] can definitely wait. There's enough here now to make a classroom setting," the film major said. "I don't know anyone who takes a helicopter to class right now, but who knows."