An Architectural Beacon of Hope in Skid Row

On the edge of Los Angeles' Skid Row, a gleaming white arts complex opens. A "stubborn declaration of hope," the center is intended to show architecture's power to create community.
December 17, 2008, 10am PST | Judy Chang
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"The materials Maltzan and his collaborators -- landscape architect Nancy Goslee Power and the design firm Ph.D -- are working with the stuff of classic Southern California banality: stucco, concrete, paint, palm trees and limited expanses of glass. If the campus turns a necessarily security-conscious and somewhat blank face to the street, the buildings that make it up -- two rehabbed older structures and a handful of small new ones -- are arranged inside its gates with an unusually effective combination of complexity, practicality, economy and care. The architecture here is layered and intricate without falling into overwrought or self-conscious mannerism, which is among the trickiest tightropes for an architect to walk.

Holding studios, classrooms and performance space, with parking on the rooftop of one of the buildings, ICA provides arts instruction to students from 30 elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools. Many of the kids it serves live in the neighborhood; others come from families that are chronically homeless."

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Published on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 in Los Angeles Times
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