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Anita May Rosenstein Campus

A Sheltering Herald

Leong Leong | KFA

Los Angeles has historically been a collection, a scattering, of villages. From the original Pueblo of the Spanish colonizers in Downtown Los Angeles to early 20th Century residential complexes - The Garden of Allah! - to such postmodern assemblages by Frank Gehry as Loyola Law School or the Edgemar in Santa Monica, this dispersed metropolis is infected and enriched by nodes of urban density, sporadic moments of architecture for collective purpose in the seemingly endless grid. We might even think of Richard Meier’s Getty Center, perfectly isolated above the 405 Freeway, as a kind of Purist hill town.

The Anita May Rosenstein Campus has affinities with concepts of village both in the physical or formal sense and in the social sense of embracing communal and psychological needs. Recently completed by New York architects Leong Leong in collaboration with local practice KFA, the first and most prominent component of this multipart project occupies its corner site as a stylish assemblage skillfully addressing a not untypical LA context of eclectic commercial lots. The built mass curves in deference to the street intersection and opens up to instigate multiple points of entry, both discrete and discreet, from the sidewalk.

In a neighborhood that is still not entirely gentrified or homogenized, this primary component of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus is paradoxically skinned almost entirely in glass. “Paradoxically” not only as many adjacent structures - Regen Projects, for instance, an upmarket art gallery by Micheal Maltzan diagonally across Santa Monica Boulevard -
are comparatively opaque boxes but also because the building accommodates many intimate services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual communities, many of whom live under threat of persecution. The new building functions, therefore, as both herald and shelter.

This quality of herald is signaled first of all by the...

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