Laurence School - San Fernando Valley       For 53 years, a small elementary school stood as an oasis in a cluttered and confusing commercial and multi-family environment in the San Fernando Valley. The expanded u-shaped campus winds its way through and around commercial and apartment properties providing a wonderful journey of discovery. The challenge was to create a larger sense of space where little actually exists.

By layering planes of color, materials, and vine-covered screening, buildings dissolve with the walkways and gardens. The gym with its 5 rollup doors opening onto walkways and playfields provides a community marketplace for book fairs and carnivals. A rear stage door opens to the playground for graduation ceremonies in or outside. The library has an outdoor reading room in a poetry garden while inside is a circular storytelling alcove. Classrooms are filled with natural light and seminar rooms provide flexibility for changing educational curriculum in years ahead.

The variety of outdoor experiences belies the small, narrow site. Buildings, playgrounds, and gardens are woven together with trellis-covered walkways. Poetry, vegetable and riparian gardens are used to engage and educate children. A variety of environmental graphics includes a solar passage into the science room with galaxies, nubula, and DNA chains appearing as windows in the metal clad walls. Mark Twain and Peter Pan float on the outside stage door while masks of comedy and tragedy hang above the gym's interior proscenium.