In his address to the crowd, Mayor Garcetti said, “Emerson College Los Angeles is both a landmark of artistic achievement and a flagship accomplishment for the revitalization of a neighborhood that has seen decline. This is now a jewel in the crown of the Hollywood Renaissance.” Garcetti said the project, which employed as many as a hundred union workers a day, was a shot in the arm in the form of good, middle-class jobs.”
Ron Miller, Executive Secretary for the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building Trades Council, said the project’s first win was securing approval to break ground. “This is a dramatic building, and I gotta tell ya, we had some drama getting it to this point. But we put together a strong coalition, and proved there’s no stopping a project that’s good for the community.”
Established in 1880, Emerson College evolved from a small New England school of oratory to a multifaceted college with an international reputation. The new Los Angeles (Hollywood) campus now offers students television, film, journalism, marketing, and communication internships, which assist in their networking base. These opportunities were available to students as early as January 2014.
During his speech, Founding Director Kevin Bright said, “We imagined a campus inside a building, one that would provide Hollywood and Los Angeles with a gift of an iconic landmark. It will bring jobs, prosperity and a new opinion of Hollywood. And, I’m proud to say, it’s union-made.”
Hathaway Dinwiddie Senior Project Manager Bruce Arnold said, “Without unions, we wouldn’t be successful. I’ve been at it 30 years and can’t recall a time they didn’t supply as much highly skilled labor as we needed to complete our projects on time and with the highest level of quality. We are pleased to have a PLA too—You hit the schedule, you get the quality.” Arnold pointed out that construction was 100% accident-free, which those involved say was no small feat, since the highly non-standard building required hefting materials 10 stories above a parcel of land barely larger than its own base. That meant zero margin for error.
The construction team immaculately created a sun-shading system connected to a local weather station that automatically adjusts to minimize the energy used to heat, cool and illuminate the glass-enclosed residential towers. A valence system, located within the ceilings, is controlled by sensors and provides radiant heating and cooling for the residential units. On top of the West tower, solar thermal panels use the sun to heat water, providing hot water throughout the center and decreasing the building’s consumption of natural gas. The building is also equipped with efficient fixtures and on-site water management to reduce water use by 40%.
“It was potentially quite dangerous,” said Iron Workers Local 433 President and Business Agent Piedmont Brown. “But the Iron Workers had a good engineering plan. It was precarious, but we made it happen.” Brown said that such care paid off in the form of a world-class calling card for what journeymen from the Trades can do. “It’s a great building, it stands out, it’s an icon for Hollywood, something people will slow down and take a look at.”
“It is quite a remarkable feat for a structure of this magnitude and design to become LEED Gold Certified,” said AQC’s Chair Pam Ackrich. “Positive results can occur only with a stellar general contractor leading the project, superb architectural design, cooperation between government and Emerson College, and all union trades working in unison. In addition, the safety record on this arduous project is most impressive.”
The Emerson College sustainable building is situated on the lively corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street, with a pristine view of the Hollywood sign. The glitzy building provides 6 general purpose classrooms, a computer lab, an audio lab, a distance learning room, two performance studios, dressing rooms, study rooms, a 4K screening room, a multi-purpose event space, and a post-audio mixing suite. The event space has advanced audio and visual equipment with seating capacity of 250 persons reconfigurable for special events and parties and the post audio is a 7.1 Dolby surround sound audio suite that is shaped to provide optimum acoustics. The outdoor terrace includes a park-like grass area with trees and barbeque grills. This avant-garde “building-within-a-building” turns heads from every direction.
Accepting the 2014 Q Award for Emerson College Los Angeles was Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College. On behalf of Emerson College, Mr. Pelton exuberantly remarked, “The building will remain a powerful economic engine now that it’s complete. LA has always understood the value of the creative economy to attract businesses and services, innovation and investment. It’s essential to providing not only jobs, but revenue.”
Immediately after the Q Award presentation attendees enjoyed a sumptuous lunch with the quad area surrounded by the angles and precipices of Emerson’s outstanding modern architecture. Once again the Southern California sunshine added to a perfect ambiance.
AQC’s Q Award is given annually through a ceremony and event for outstanding contributions toward the attainment of quality construction within the building industry of Southern California. The recipient is selected by the Alliance’s membership from quality union construction projects completed in the previous year. Emerson College Los Angeles is now recognized to be in an elite collection of Southern California structures like the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Disney Concert Hall, Nokia Theater L.A. Live, Cathedral of the Angels, The Getty Villa, and others.
“This is becoming an elite event,” said Pam Ackrich. “Interest in the Q Award grows every year as we recognize the talents and cooperation between labor, management, local government and the facility’s ownership. Southern California should be proud of Emerson College Los Angeles and its spectacular iconic structure and first-rate school.”
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