1960, Marina del Rey, California
Schools in the Southwest commonly consist of long rectangular classroom structures with outdoor “hallways.” Paul R. Williams’ Marina del Rey school follows this program, but amplifies its main virtue—exposure to the outdoors—and minimizes its main defect—excessive repetition of form.
Marina del Rey’s campus shape is determined by a huge wedge of lawn with flower gardens and jacaranda trees framed on four sides by covered walkways. The narrow end focuses on the great arch of the gymnasium, and the wide end on a semi-circular assembly area set in its own garden. Behind this garden is an arc of administration buildings, the library and two campus entrances. From the long sides of the wedge extend classroom blocks separated by garden patios, and beyond them, an open-air cafeteria, theater and additional classrooms. In the passages, blocks of vibrant color, patterns of light and shade, slices of blue sky and clusters of shrubs, trees and benches create a lively visual experience and offer leafy exterior rooms. In 2009/10, the campus was repainted in a palette of colors that reflects careful research by three determined faculty members into Williams’ design and color choices.
The school is seeking placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
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