The community center was conceived as a physical expression of the often perilous passage from adolescence to maturity. A combination of active and reflective experiences are present from porous public spaces extending out into the park, to the more introverted and cloistered areas for concentrated work study and growth.
The ambiguity of the building envelope questions the boundary of what lies inside and out; it also establishes an architectural framework of opacity and transparency. The architects positioned the building to encourage “walk-in” traffic from the park visitors moving along the central sidewalk. The open spaces near the entrance were designed for public programs taking advantage of the Southern California climate, which allows for year-round outdoor activities. The entry is created by a seamless floor surface leading directly into the Center from the adjacent park plaza. All circulation is open to the air, exposed to the elements.
Formally, the building changes dramatically during the course of a day. When the center is open, two large doors roll away, dissolving the boundaries that separate the interior from the outside. Views extend straight through the building both during the day and at night when the local gang members gather in their territorial headquarters. At night the light from the lobby is filtered through the façade’s perforated metal screen, spilling light into the park.
What was the brief?
This project was commissioned to provide a central location for the at-risk youth population in the City of Montebello, east of downtown Los Angeles. The program includes space for four non-profit agencies to provide activities and services for the youth, and a police drop-in station.
Services to be provided from the building include: alternatives to drug use and gang violence, mentoring opportunities for young Latinos, healthcare services and health education programs, and computer training workshops. Two rooftop decks and a multi-purpose room provide areas for community gatherings. The center is sited within the 11-acre Reggie Rodriguez Park and is surrounded by a residential area.
What were the construction systems?
Wood framing with stucco, large rolling and coiling doors, and all circulation exterior.