About » History & Grand Architecture

History & Grand Architecture

Grand Arts anchors the north end of Los Angeles' "Grand Avenue Cultural Corridor," home to Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center, Colburn School of Music, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and The Broad Art Museum (slated to open in 2015). The 9.8 acre campus was designed by Austrian architect Wolf Prix and his firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and garnered immediate acclaim. Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne comments, "When the school was finished, in December 2008, it became clear that it was a hybrid design unlike anything Los Angeles had seen before." The conical library space, soaring Concert Hall lobby, and huge round windows that connect its 1,700 students to the surrounding city make Grand Arts is a public school architectural wonder, consistently listed among the top ten world-wide.
In addition to its contribution to the downtown landscape, Grand Arts is intended to be a public facility that can be enjoyed by the community as well. The school includes a 927-seat professional concert hall with a Broadway-sized proscenium stage, orchestra pit, and fully equipped sound and lighting booths; a 250-seat black box theatre; and outdoor amphitheatre; a professional scene shop; photography and broadcast studios; multiple science and computer labs; specialized spaces equipped for art, music, and theatre classes; and four dance studios.
Apart from pleasing architecture critics and serving the surrounding public, most importantly, Grand Arts fits its students. An excerpt from Hawthorne's "Starchitecture High" sums this up nicely:
What…the school has taught [its students] about the architecture is not so much what they like and dislike about the design, or about what works and what doesn't, but rather the surprising and ultimately thrilling ways in which their high school campus reminds them of themselves and their peers. Like them it is something of a proud outcast: gangly, dreamy, and beautiful at the same time, trying to make its way in a culture that prizes familiarity over strangeness and sameness over individuality. For a teenager who dreams of becoming an artist or a dancer, and has maybe not always found that ambition popular or easily understood by others in his family or neighborhood, what kind of campus could be better?