The Emerson Mafia—Emerson College's long-powerful force in the entertainment world—is staking its place in Hollywood (literally and figuratively) in a big way, with a shiny new state-of-the-art campus designed by starchitect Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis. The building is one of the finest pieces of architecture to go up in Los Angeles in years and it sits in a swiftly up-and-coming area, at Sunset and Gordon, that was still pretty dismal when work began just a couple years ago (still, security is tight). Program director Kevin Bright says the building will act as both a "beacon to alumni" and a point of connection between the school and the city; students spend most of their week at local internships and are required to do four hours of community service. (Boston-based Emerson's semester-long Los Angeles program, designed to give students hands-on entertainment experience, was based for years in the Oakwood complex in Burbank, which is where Cory Haim died, to give you an idea of what that place is like.) The building officially opens with a big gala this weekend, but 130 students have already moved in; the program will be up to its full 217-student capacity by next January.
The building is made up of two 10-story towers (which house mostly dorm rooms, plus a few full staff/visiting faculty apartments)—connected by bridges, a terrace, and an overhead helistop—with a twisty sculptural center housing a glass-walled conference room, classrooms, offices, and more. The entire building is clad in motorized fins connected to a weather station on the roof that tells them when to open and close to maximize daylight and minimize overheating.
Besides the offices and dorm rooms (mostly singles with 29 doubles), the self-contained campus comes with a big multipurpose assembly room, two black box spaces, dressing rooms, a screening room with 4k projectors, an editing lab, an audio lab, a post-production audio mixing suite, a "distance learning room" to beam in lectures from Boston or elsewhere, an open-air amphitheater, and a groundfloor cafe that's both on the Emerson meal plan and open to the public. Just about all of the private spaces, down to one of the shared kitchens but stopping short of the dorm rooms, is rigged up for filming or presentations.
There are also 246 parking spaces on four levels (three below-ground, one at-ground) and 127 of the 130 students in the program right now either brought their own cars or are renting them here (the school also has carshare cars on-site). But with the Red Line so close and a DASH route running past, Emerson expects fewer students will need to have their own cars as the program matures.
Tuition is about $28,000 a semester.
· Emerson College Los Angeles [Curbed LA]