Los Angeles plans cause for California Dreamin’

by Beacon Staff • November 3, 2011

strongAt issue:/strong

Administration announces concrete construction timetable for satellite campus in LA.

strongOur take: /strong

Bring on the real estate.

Last March, Beacon reporters visited the site of Emerson’s planned satellite campus in Los Angeles—then a trash-strewn, vacant lot. Students studying in the City of Angels commuted in congested traffic up to 45 minutes from their school-administered apartments in Burbank to internships in Hollywood or downtown. The college’s temporary campus looked like a reappropriated insurance office.

We are now optimistic about the long-awaited construction timetable announced by President Pelton yesterday, which, if adhered to, will allow current freshmen and sophomores to break in the new facility in 2014.

A lawsuit filed by a neighboring recording studio delayed the much-anticipated project—which was originally scheduled to begin in early 2011—by at least a year, as legal and bureaucratic road blocks pushed the ground-breaking date back. At last, students have a concrete idea of when the center will be built.

Currently, around 100 Emerson seniors travel more than 3,000 miles west in their spring semester, and use the program as a launchpad into their post-graduate careers. Students spend the semester interning at various locations that require a car to commute due to the lack of efficient public transportation in LA. The new campus will decrease the need for shipping over or renting a car, and instead give birth to a campus a mere 10-minute walk from Hollywood, where most internships live.

This will give rise to a current missed opportunity for students stuck within the bounds of the Oakwoods apartments in Burbank--the inability to easily frequent various events in and around the city, as done in Boston. Students can truly increase their chance at delving into their respective industries after commencement with the commuting capability to continuously network and meet other professionals.

Yet our physical existence in LA. has far from reflected our massive presence there. Our campus in the Netherlands has served as a playground for Euro-tripping underclassmen, returning with hordes of stories to tell and retell until their last Emerson moment. The same tangibility can come into play with facilities that will not only educate but incubate careers in the college’s unofficial second hub.

The 10-story structure will allow more than 200 students to reside on Sunset Boulevard, double the amount allowed to enroll in the program previously.

Just as the move from Beacon Street to Boylston revitalized the once-seedy Theatre District, this move will also improve that downtrodden area of Sunset Boulevard. Comment threads on Curbed LA, an architecture blog, revealed dozens of posts relaying messages such as, “It’s time for that stretch of Sunset to get a makeover,” or “almost anything would be better than the empty lot that is currently here.”

Having an Emerson College building in such a central location will do wonders for our West Coast name recognition. It will be a physical manifestation of what the Emerson Mafia already provides.

Finally the Emerson LA program will parallel the kind of central city campus Emerson students experience in Boston. As Boston students exist in walking distance from places such as the State House, Fox 25, and a host of theaters, students out west will soon live in the shadows of CNN, KTLA, and Technicolor.

Perhaps the palpable existence of a LA campus will even pull in its fair share of tales to bring home to Boston.