After a year and a half of construction, doors will open this fall to Southwestern Law School’s first on-campus housing facility, located on the north side of Seventh Street between Shatto Place and Westmoreland Avenue. In spite of its modest stature, the project is a significant first step in the institution’s shift away from its commuter school identity, as well as an important milestone in the slow maturation of its Koreatown campus. It is hard to overstate the apartment complex’s contribution to Southwestern’s physical visibility; it is the school’s first building to rise on its Seventh Street side, previously dedicated entirely to surface parking. The five-story building now provides a strong, but elegant presence for the campus’ southern edge, in sharp contrast with the patchy street wall and low-rise form of nearby Seventh Street.
Designed by Corsini Stark Architects, the building’s exterior draws heavy inspiration from the region’s early Modernist heritage, with a few contemporary touches. The upper stories of its wide Seventh Street facade are broken up by several columns of floor-to-ceiling windows, complemented by an irregular pattern of protruding frames which double as sunshades for the south-facing units. Further echoes of the International Style are revealed in the strong horizontal composition and the wide curve at the building’s southwest corner.
In contrast with the smooth white stucco applied to its upper stories, the ground floor base which surrounds the parking structure is clad in dark granite, recalling a common pattern in mid-century corporate buildings. Despite the opacity of its ground floor, the building is not without welcome gestures to the public street. Two rows of shade trees have been planted along its widened Seventh Street sidewalk, and a series of planting beds have been built into its ground floor walls.
1. Southwestern Law School. Southwestern to Build On-Campus Student Housing. Press release. 9 Nov. 2011. http://www.swlaw.edu/news/overview/newsr.7h7PqDaNds
2. Vincent, Roger. “Southwestern Law School plans to build student housing.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Nov. 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/25/business/la-fi-southwestern-expansion-20111125