HOLA’s Arts & Recreation Center is a three-story, 24,000-square-foot facility located in the northeast corner of Lafayette Park, as the result of a formal public/private partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The facility was created as a community center for local youth, to elevate the arts and aid in the development and success of the next generation, and has since morphed into an intergenerational community center offering a wide range of services to the area’s many families.
Opened in December 2019, the highly innovative construction includes the use of 47 modified, recycled shipping containers as “building blocks” to create an energy and cost efficient structure. More traditional modular construction blends with these components to create the Center’s multi-purpose pavilion and various common areas. The facility’s design and footprint allows for maximum preservation of green spaces in order to live in harmony with the natural environment – going beyond preservation to enhance the outdoor space with more greenery, shade trees, and the injection of native plants, which returned biodiversity and native creatures the area has not seen in decades back to the park. Now home to a family of hawks, the green space has been able to inform student curriculum.
Designed by Berliner Architects, the facility features 12-foot wide hallways on all three floors, functioning as the main arteries of the building. Many of the classrooms are two shipping containers wide, 40-feet long, and feature large windows and high ceilings left intentionally exposed to educate children on the functions and build of the space, such as water systems and lighting controls.
HOLA’s state-of-the-art, three-story Performance Pavilion boasts 35-foot wide bi-fold doors that open into an amphitheater-like outdoor space where the community can enjoy performances by HOLA’s Youth Orchestra program. Multipurpose rooms reach as large as four containers wide, able to easily house large music ensembles of over 30 people.
HOLA Center’s goal was to elevate the space to be conducive to a high level of learning and creativity, and to allow the organization to amplify their services on every front. The completion of the center increased the number of families HOLA has been able to support by 74%, offering vaccinations, dental clinics, and eye-care appointments in their community rooms, as well as a recording studio, small musical practice rooms, and a community kitchen. At the opening of the Center, participating children had asked for the facility to be solar powered - over the summer of 2022, HOLA was able to install solar panels on the roof to power the facility.
An oasis in the heart of the city with nature in every periphery, the Center strives to be a community hub and a convener of various organizations. Conducting community surveys to inform what local families wanted and needed most, the Center offers various family services, music programs, greater access to the arts, and academic support.
The industrial feel of the shipping containers necessitated efforts to make the space feel as warm and inviting as possible, a safe space where children can congregate to learn, relax, and socialize. Thus Arper provided the perfect furnishings to elevate the environment, with Pix, Catifa 46, Catifa Up, Wim, Steeve, Kiik, Dizzie, Cila, Colina, Ply, Kinesit and Cross in bright, welcoming colors and collaborative configurations that are conducive to children settling into groups small and large. With the children responding best to bright, fun colors, Arper’s organic, clean lines and modern aesthetic fit seamlessly with HOLA’s vision for the space, airy with a ton of natural light from the surrounding windows and many creative pops of color lining the halls and classrooms.
“With HOLA’s Arts & Recreation Center, we are creating a new vision for how young people should interact with the city - equitably. We are signaling an investment in the next generation, because they deserve it and we want to see their potential realized. With Arper, we were able to create a high quality space just for the children - no more hand-me-downs, or spaces thrown together without intention,” says Tony Brown, CEO of HOLA.
Project: Berliner Architects
Construction: 47 recycled containers
Photo: Tom Bonner
Arper products: Catifa 46, Catifa Up, Cross, Dizzie, Duna 02, Kiik, Pix