Reinventing North Hollywood High School for 21st Century Learning

By Michael Stebbins Shifting to 21st Century Learning CO’s modernization of Los Angeles Unified School District’s North Hollywood High School…

Reinventing North Hollywood High School for 21st Century Learning

By Michael Stebbins

Shifting to 21st Century Learning

CO’s modernization of Los Angeles Unified School District's North Hollywood High School (NHHS) transforms the campus and supports 21st century learning. Set on a 25-acre campus, the project features three revitalized historic Mediterranean Revival-style buildings originally designed by distinguished architect Myron Hunt in the late 1920s. The modernization program renovates 100,000-SF of original administration and classroom buildings as well as the library. Over 200,000-SF of new construction provides modern educational space including a new two-story gymnasium, classrooms and an auditorium. The new architecture fits seamlessly into the campus context with a palette of stucco buildings with deep-set windows matching the rhythm and proportion of the historic buildings, as well as façade breaks and recesses that match those of the main campus building, Kennedy Hall. New outdoor learning spaces varying in scale located throughout the campus complement the main historic senior quad and give NHHS a collegiate atmosphere.

Evolving the Pedagogy

North Hollywood High School has a history of academic achievement and robust programs for technical education including traditional trades and specialized technical training for theater, sound and lighting design, and film production. In addition, the school is a leader in computer, cyber security and robotics education. A project goal was to develop state-of-the-art teaching spaces to support all of these evolving programs. The program spaces include a gymnasium and 94 classrooms.

The L-shaped classroom building connects the campus back to the large agricultural zone at the west side of the campus along the pedestrian axis of Weddington street.
The two-story gymnasium features locker rooms, aerobics rooms, weight rooms, a competition gym and the practice gym.

The new classroom building includes a robotics / maker space lab, a wood shop, an auto shop, a ceramics studio, and a video production / computer classroom suite. These classrooms include instructional areas, break-out spaces, and critical collaboration zones, implementing next generation design solutions towards the goal of preparing students for a successful future. The new 800-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium and performing arts center includes instrumental music, chorus, drama, and dance classrooms. The architectural expression of the audience chamber was designed to inspire while also seamlessly integrating variable acoustic elements, theatrical lighting, speakers, camera stations and additional performance spaces within the hall for special productions. Special consideration was given not only for the teaching of performing arts, but also for instruction in sound and lighting design. Safe and easy and access to control rooms, sound mixing station, and the lighting and rigging technical zones supports the learning environment.

Inspiring Interiors

For the interiors, the design team drew inspiration from the husky, NHHS’s school mascot from the Alaskan mountains. As a wayfinding element and nod to the mascot, the corridors feature sled tracks that lead students down the hall and into the classrooms. The interiors utilize a cool-color palette of blue, white and silver to match school colors. A standout element of the interiors is the new auditorium, which features 800+ seats and curving reflector walls and ceiling clouds with wood accents to optimize acoustics and provide an element of warmth and durability, capitalizing on the impact and importance of “visual acoustics”.

Hallways feature the husky sled tracks for wayfinding and wall murals lit by skylights.
New auditorium space with tiered seating.

Enhancing the Landscape

The NHHS campus is distinctive for both its natural and man-made-characteristics. The school has an extensive and active agricultural program, which includes a community garden. The entire west side of the campus has been set aside to the cultivation of plants and housing for animals. This, and the great number of mature trees, give the grounds a bucolic character. A new landscape design provides revamped outdoor space for gathering, instruction and performances. In addition, extensive upgrades to site utilities replace the original, century-old infrastructure and feed a new central plant, which will provide efficient and sustainable services. Further encouraging a sustainable future for NHHS, the buildings are designed to accommodate photovoltaic arrays to move the campus towards net-zero energy.

Ample outdoor seating areas provide places for students to gather and study.

Interested in seeing more? Take a virtual visit to North Hollywood High School.