Extend(ED) - ACSA National Steel Competition
Building Type: Elementary School
Location: Los Angeles River - San Fernando, CA
Class: Architecture 3B; Woodbury University
Professor: Scott Uriu/ Gerry Smulevich
Date: Spring 2009

A school is given roughly $2.5 Million annually for their budget. Proposing to use digital billboard technology to help create a system for the school to become independent from the government, allows for a provocative and palpable solution. Digital billboards sized 14’x48’ (672 SQ. FT.) make $15,000 in revenue monthly.

Create a sense of place, provide essential services and explore the techtonics of structure through typologies in order to create a place unique to the user. Provide a school fiscally independant from the Government using billboard technology.

Investigate site, question typical structural systems, investigate computer scripting, research concept, diagram site according to concept, generate program, order spatial sequence of program to concept, generate form. Resolve.

Classrooms function like dresser-drawers and slide out to expand in size. The school borrows the language of a billboard to reinvent the typology of a school.

Program Requirements:

  1. Cafeteria
  2. Gym
  3. Library
  4. Computer Labs
  5. Volunteer Space
  6. Storage
  7. Science Labs
  8. Nurse’s Office
  9. Faculty Rooms
  10. Resource Offices
  11. Principle’s Office
  12. Conference Room
  13. Art Room
  14. Bathrooms
  15. Trash Disposal
  16. Classrooms 19200

Project Intention:
Extend(ED) elementary school attacks traditional ideas of sustainability through the implementation of another factor: financial sustainability. By borrowing the typology of a billboard, the school is afforded the ability to generate its own revenue, thus removing dependency on state funding over the course of the school’s life-cycle. The fiscally sustainable school refuses to remain reliant on government funding in a failing economy. Moreover, as local population expands or contracts, the “billboard” has the ability to extend or shrink the physical space of the classrooms, like a habitable dresser drawer. The school is located in the air-rights space above the Los Angeles River which is the only free public land that remains undeveloped. Should the population continue to expand, the school has the ability to grow along the river adding more “drawers” to the billboard. As the billboard grows, the amount of funds available to the school increases. Conversely, should the school population shrink, the amount of available funds shrinks. The school, in this manner, is not morally irresponsible or greedy, but rather in a state of balance within society.

Although there is considerable controversy regionally about the appropriate placement of advertisement billboards, Extend(ED) probes this controversy and relishes in the opportunity to question the basic assumption of the appropriateness of corporate infiltration in residential communities. The project utilizes the surrounding freeway intersection as an audience for advertising which eliminates the need to generate more billboards throughout the community, while at the same time creating a positive learning environment behind the veil. A dialectical argument is formed between the morally questionable nature of billboards and the wholesome nature of community, which is further probed by blurring the boundaries between the two.

Steel becomes integral in the design of the school given it must accomplish three main goals of spanning the Los Angeles River, supporting the load of a digital media advertising wall, and it must anticipate growth or decay. The steel truss system becomes an opportunity to highlight the material itself for its expressive qualities while at the same time creating an armature for flexibility.

Extend(ED) elementary seeks to answer the questions of how to fund schools throughout their life-cycle without state funding in a failing economy, and how to anticipate adaptability. The project questions typical building typologies and the role of corporate sponsorship in schools, while at the same time, creating a positive learning environment that can be readapted to the changes in the community.