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Young Oak Kim Academy-Wilshire Vermont Middle School

Los Angeles, California

A component of Los Angeles’ first true mixed-use transit village, this middle school is located over a subway station in a dense urban neighborhood. Designed on an undersized site, the entire roof of one wing is used for outdoor play areas. Christopher Coe worked closely with school district officials to obtain an exception from the California Department of Education for his creative land use plan and the school has since become a model for new schools on small sites in urban neighborhoods. The school accommodates 1,300 students in a three-story building with 34 classrooms and library, multipurpose room, gymnasium, dining facility and offices. The school is an L-shaped building that holds the street edges and encloses a playground bordering the pedestrian plaza leading to the new subway portal. The larger wing of the “L” is a three-story volume containing the classrooms, library and offices. The multipurpose room, dining facility and gymnasium are all located in the shorter, lower wing. Because of the limited site size, the roof of this entire wing is used for outdoor play areas and accommodates four basketball courts. The height differential between the high gymnasium volume and the other spaces is reconciled by a large set of bleachers facing the courts. A steel superstructure sheathed in horizontal wire mesh creates a safety and hazard barrier for the roof-top play areas.

Designed by Christopher Coe while Managing Director and Director of Design of Arquitectonica Los Angeles.

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