Emerson to break ground on Los Angeles campus in early 2012

by Heidi Moeller / Beacon Staff • November 3, 2011

A dilapidated chain-link fence — covered in old concert fliers and shoddily posted advertisements—surrounds a 37,000 square foot lot in the heart of downtown Hollywood.

By next year, the scene will be replaced by building permits as Emerson College will begin construction on the Los Angeles campus center — dubbed ECLA — college officials said yesterday. The new building is slated to open in 2014.

At the October Board of Trustees meeting, college officials voted to resume building plans for ECLA, which had been delayed for a year after East West Studios, a recording studio in Los Angeles located across from the vacant lot where Emerson plans to build, filed a lawsuit against the college claiming construction noises would interrupt recording.

According to Andrew Tiedemann, vice president of communication and marketing, the lawsuit was dismissed in a court decision on July 12. East West Studios had until Oct. 7 to appeal the decision.

The studio declined to comment on the plans to resume construction.

“East West has decided not to appeal…there’s another whole process we have to go through now of pulling permits and notifying the neighborhood that we plan to begin construction in 2012, but there shouldn’t be any barriers going forward,” Tiedemann said.

In a 2009 Morphosis, the Thom Mayne-founded architectural firm that designed the proposed structure, was reported saying that construction was planned to begin in early 2011, according to Curbed LA, an architectural blog. A later article reported that the aforementioned lawsuit took a full year to settle, which delayed construction to the new 2012 plan.

Located at 6004 Sunset Blvd., precisely at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street in Hollywood, the Thom Mayne-design — with its sleek metal facade and arched structure — will include residence halls, classrooms, and administrative spaces. According to Jim Lane, executive director of ECLA, the West Coast campus currently serves between 100 and 110 students each semester and 40 to 45 students in the summer months. The new building will allow approximately 200 students to reside in tinseltown, Tiedemann said.

President M. Lee Pelton said the college is currently discussing the types of programs that will comprise the new facility, including television, production, screenwriting, and entertainment communication courses.

“Our plan is to work with the faculty and with the board of trustees over the course of the current academic year in order to develop with more precision the programs that we envision would be at ECLA,” said Pelton.

The center will also allow for additional programming, such as the opportunity for lectures that take place in LA to be watched in Boston, and a place for alumni on the West Coast to gather, according to Tiedemann.

“This is an historic moment for our College,” Pelton wrote in a mass email to the college. “ECLA will figure prominently in Emerson’s future.”