Founded in 2008, New Los Angeles Charter School is a dynamic and diverse public middle school that develops students who are passionate about learning, engaged in their community, and have respect for themselves and others. In its first year, New LA's test scores ranked in the top, amongst Los Angeles’ Unified School District schools, proving that New LA's innovative student-centered pedagogy is a model for public middle schools. New LA’s main focus is centered on the terminology “Social Justice”, which seeks to bring middle schools to the area of cities that currently have no educational systems in place.
Charter schools are not provided with facilities and rely on their own fundraising to build their schools. New LA undertook the groundbreaking effort of renovating and converting a large two-story aerospace light manufacturing warehouse as the school's permanent home. Abramson Teiger Architects was retained to assist New LA in performing a complete due diligence on the building to determine the feasibility of its conversion into a school. ATA evaluated the Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems of the building as well as the environmental condition of the facility. Research included meetings with senior level City of Los Angeles Charter School Case Managers and an extensive review of zoning, and building and safety requirements. The building was also seismically retrofitted to education facility standards; this allowed a nice interplay of existing brick to new design.
Light and color played an important role in the design. An inexpensive method of animating the exterior façade was the use of painted colored patterning which created a street character that marked the school in the neighborhood as a community identity. Color, particularly yellow, was distinctly used for markers of entry and circulation. Light was introduced into the heart of the school at the primary circulation points with a fifty foot long skylight. The gym/yoga room/and cafeteria sought to blend exterior and interior spaces. In the cafeteria, existing loading dock openings were converted to large glass garage doors, and the ceiling was removed to achieve maximum volume in the space with substantial amounts of natural light.
The school has converted an industrial neighborhood into a beacon for learning.