Best K-12 Education Project

Photo courtesy of Hensel Phelps
Hensel Phelps was the general contractor.
Photo courtesy of Hensel Phelps
Gonzalez Goodale was the architect.

The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, constructed at the site of the historic Ambassador Hotel and Cocoanut Grove Night Club in Los Angeles, includes a K-5 grade school for 800 students, a grades 6-8 middle school for 1,000 students, a grades 9-12 high school for 2,440 students with five separate small learning communities, a new parking structure and the new RFK Inspiration Park.

Designed to reflect the latest green building methods and materials, the project utilized double- and triple-glazed windows to reduce heat load and traffic noise; reflective white roofing; drought-tolerant landscaping; low VOC emissive interior materials; water-saving plumbing fixtures; renewable materials such as linoleum, rubber and cork flooring; and photovoltaic panels in the park.

The campus is the first in California to fully use a technology called thermal displacement ventilation that delivers air from the lower portion of the walls rather than from the ceiling.

The upward flow of air results in not only a more energy efficient form of air cooling, but also improves air quality.

The project team says the principal challenge was to synthesize the aspirations of a vast range of stakeholders while still creating a coherent and integrated structure.

A second challenge was to overcome the separation of the site's original grading from the city street system, and to literally re-ground the site's perimeter. At one time, the hotel was purposefully divorced from the city grid.

The master planning for this project aggressively terraced the site down to meet the city sidewalks on all four sides.

One result of this was a 30-ft-high system of stepped terraces down the southerly portion of the site (where the K-5 lower schools are located), giving the lower schools a stronger presence on the street front.

These same grand terraces have become a barrier-less and subtle separation between the main quad of the 6-12 upper schools and the K-5 lower school's play area and its multi-purpose performance proscenium, the project team says.

Key Players

Owner/Construction Management: Los Angeles Unified School District

General Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction, Irvine

Architect: Gonzalez Goodale Architects, Pasadena

Civil Engineer: TMAD Taylor & Gaines, Pasadena

Structural Engineer: Englekirk & Sabol Consulting Structural Engineers Inc., Los Angeles

MEP Engineers: TTG Taylor Gaines, Pasadena; Morrow-Meadows Corp., City of Industry; Critchfield Mechanical, Irvine

Submitted by:

Hensel Phelps