Westchester Lutheran

Los Angeles, California
Phase I Classroom/Administration 2007/2008
Established as part of the Westchester (Los Angeles) fabric in the 1930’s, Westchester Lutheran Church has continued to grow and expand, founding a school in the 1950’s and building a new, modern sanctuary in the 1960’s. A half century after the school was opened, the Church invited OJMR-Architects to master plan a new facility that would bring classroom sizes up to modern standards, relocate the off-campus middle school to the existing church site, and plan a gymnasium/theatre space. The program called for 62,000 square feet of new floor area, 18 classrooms, administration offices, a media/computer lab, library, art studios, and a gymnasium/theatre space.
Design Concept
The existing multi-level topography, the long triangular site, and the location of the sanctuary building created a unique condition in which a new narrow 2-story building would bridge across the existing parking/vehicular circulation and integrate into the landscape/playground space of the lower campus.  A metaphorical linking of site/program and educational philosophy is made through this bridge of learning. The vertical stacking of classrooms is divided by age groups. Kindergarten and 1st grade are on the ground level while the 5th and 6th grades are on the upper floor.
As the children graduate to the middle school, they move to classrooms located on the south side of the property, away from the younger children. A linear exterior circulation zone connects the classrooms and provides shading along the east side of the building, while exterior open flexible spaces provide shade relief to the facade along the west.