Emerson College (ELA)
By Kirsten Kiser
The new sustainable facility features a host of innovative amenities designed to provide students with the opportunity to pursue their creativity.
Located in the heart of Hollywood, Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) defines the College’s identity in the center of the entertainment industry and the second largest city in the United States.
|The building is designed to expand the interactive, social aspect of education. We focused on creating with the broader community in mind – both in terms of public space and sustainable design.|
|/ Thom Mayne|
With rigging for screens, media connections, sound, and lighting incorporated into the facade’s metal framework, this dynamic visual backdrop also serves as a flexible armature for outdoor performances. The entire building becomes a stage set for student films, screenings, and industry events, with the Hollywood sign, the city of Los Angeles, and the Pacific Ocean in the distance providing added scenery.
Fundamental to the Emerson Los Angeles experience, student living circumstances give structure to the overall building. Housing up to 217 students, the domestic zones frame a dynamic core dedicated to creativity, learning, and social interaction.
Composed of two slender residential towers connected by a helistop, the 10-story square frame encloses a central open volume to create a flexible outdoor “room.”
A sculpted form housing classrooms and administrative offices weaves through the void, defining multi-level terraces and active interstitial spaces that foster informal social activity and creative cross-pollination.
Looking out onto the multi-level terrace, exterior corridors to student suites and common rooms are shaded by an undulating, textured metal scrim spanning the full height of the towers’ interior face.
The 10-story structure can house up to 217 students and includes wired classrooms, an open-air screening and live-performance space, a Dolby Surround 7.1 audio post-production suite, a 4K screening room, computer labs, mixing suites, and a planned green screen motion capture stage.
Extensive outdoor terraces, instructional space, and exterior circulation within the open atrium take advantage of the region’s temperate climate.
Anticipating a LEED Gold achievement, the building’s exterior features a dynamic sun shading system that adapts to changing weather conditions to maintain optimal indoor temperature and natural light levels. Heating and cooling of the building is further optimized through an innovative passive valence system developed by Buro Happold.
Additional green design initiatives include: the use of recycled and rapidly renewable building materials; installation of efficient water-saving fixtures; a high-performance glass curtainwall to minimize heat gain; landscaping and a living green wall; and a central management infrastructure to monitor overall building efficiency.