Letter: LBUSD Renovation Plan not Winning Any Architectural Awards

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One issue regarding the School Board Renovation Plan that needs concern is the problem of aesthetics and symbolism. In particular, it’s the nature of the proposed campus’s main entrance coming up Park Ave. at Short Street. According to the Board’s proposal, the entrance would be marked on the north with a formidable-looking structure made up of a concrete enclosed parking lot (132 cars), which in turn will support a tennis facility enshrouded with an opaque dark green screen. Rising above the towering fence would be light poles with lights that seem to go on forever. Continuing up Park to the end are more parking spaces (122 cars). The whole northern perimeter of the campus is a line of undistinguished structures that say nothing about education. Hiding it with bushes won’t help! Simultaneously this condition is reinforced on the southern side of the entrance. 

Starting with the proposed two-story district office building at Short Street, there are three unfortunate problems: 1. Way too high and out of proportion for the school and nearby residential community. 2. The massive building eliminates residents’ view of the grassy green knoll that softens the view of the school classrooms. 3. With the missing knoll and the new building being brought down to street level, the school entrance will lose its symbolic reference to the school being a place to nurture the mind, not the body. Most important public buildings like the National Capital, Library of Congress, Notre Dame, etc., are all elevated. Even with our current office building, the entrance rests on a small staircase. It is a sign that they are important places where the mind and spirit are enhanced. 

The new plans describe a faceless campus without any identity consistent with education. What they do describe is a plan for another expensive Home Depot. They would not win any architectural award.  

Gene Cooper, Laguna Beach resident and professor of art history

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