LA PLAZA COMMUNITY CENTER
Student Name: Angel Torrones Calvario
School: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Studio: Cultural Studio
Instructor: Katrin Terstegen
This project is a multi-use community center located in the Toy District in Los Angeles. It aims to become a “hub” for interaction where community activities can unfold and develop. The building works as a small village which consists of a series of volumes and voids — spatially organized around a central plaza. This generated urban void works as a multifunctional public space that embraces the corner condition and becomes an extension of Boyd and Wall street. Additionally, this space provides a strong connection between the main streets and the ample network of “callejones” or little side streets that are widely used by vendors and visitors alike. The sculptural character of the building provides accessible roofs and terraces that seamlessly connect to the ground level and encourage pedestrian circulation on various levels. Ultimately, the building presents itself as an icon that could potentially act as a catalyst for revitalization of the whole neighborhood.
Downtown Los Angeles is a place of continuous transformation with countless numbers of places and people. This inevitable trend of growth and modernization requires the creation of new public spaces that welcome all of Los Angeles — embracing its residents, workers and visitors alike. La Plaza Community center aims to create an environment where various communities can come together and group activities can unfold and develop. The vision for this project is that it acts as a catalyst of revitalization of the whole neighborhood by distributing different recreational, artistic, philosophical and educational expressions.
The proposed building is in a corner lot at the intersection between Boyd and Wall street in the middle of the Toy District in Downtown LA. There are several cultural destinations in close proximity to this site: MOCA, The Broad Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Los Angeles towards the north. The Arts District is towards the east, and the Gallery Row on the south-west. The program includes an underground fitness center with a basketball court, a large auditorium, a public library, exhibition halls, a café and multipurpose rooms. Spaces within are intended to be flexible and allow for a variety of activities in an integrated manner. Additionally, the building provides several outdoor spaces that can be used to host outdoor activities. The community center is intended to host activities related to the rescue, understanding, and promotion of heritage and tradition. Visual art exhibitions can be done as well to promote all kinds of cultural backgrounds. Other events can be done like concerts, dances, plays and sports activities.
The architecture attempts to become an icon and hub for interaction in the heart of the Toy District. It explores the capabilities of the building envelope as a space generator where areas inside and outside are derived from the same fabric. One specific feature of the site that strongly influenced the overall design is the presence of a vast network or allies or “callejones”. These walkways are used as alternative circulation paths and informal commercial spaces. As a result, the massing of the project responds to the porousness and pedestrian nature of the site. The program is divided and arranged to create a small village with a central plaza that unifies and connects the given spaces which serves as a gateway to the rest of the neighborhood.
At the ground level, emphasis is placed on removing walls and barriers to provide a permeable place for users and people passing by. This is achieved through generous windows that provide a glimpse of the several activities happening simultaneously across the different floors. From active to passive activities being done, the people using the space inside then become performers of the space as the people passing by become their viewers; acting theatrically. Both the users and the passers by are presented with the opportunity to interact with the building by simply walking though the plaza. The inclusion of a roof terrace open to the public allows the second floor to become an extension of the street where users are free to move and transit. This freedom provides a sense of ownership which emphasizes the building’s status as a community facility.