The Water Park of Doom
April 06, 2009, 01:46 PM
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This is the new $242 million arts high school in downtown Los Angeles. I don`t know what the giant spiral thing-a-mob is supposed to be: to me, it looks like a nightmare water slide that will send children plummeting out of its airborne bottom end to their deaths:

Whhhheeeeeeeee ... Splat.

Designed by the award-winning Austrian architecture firm of Coop Himmelb(l)au, this public high school is alongside the Hollywood Freeway. It`s right across from the Roman Catholic LA Cathedral that was erected a decade ago by an award-winning Spanish architect in the style of a secret police headquarters. From the east, the new high school (unsurprisingly, billionaire busybody Eli Broad was intimately involved in its creation) looks like an invading robot from Planet Japania that`s aiming to torch the Cathedral with its flamethrower:

Not surprisingly, the new $242 million high school is a political football. At a time when LAUSD is laying off math teachers, race is getting in the way of doing anything with this expensive boondoggle. The LA Times reports:

A tug of war erupted last week over L.A.`s new downtown arts high school, with some of its biggest supporters declaring that they had given up on the Los Angeles Unified School District and wanted the $242-million campus turned over to a charter school organization. In response to the critics, who included philanthropist Eli Broad, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines shot back: "There is not a for-sale sign on it."

The tension had been building for months, fueled in part by the district`s plan to reserve most of the school`s seats for students from the surrounding neighborhood rather than open it up to the most talented students districtwide. It bubbled over after two star principals from the East Coast turned down offers to take charge, leaving the school leaderless less than six months before it opens in September.

It`s been totally forgotten in the mania for starchitects, but Southern California has a 200-year-old indigenous architecture style that would make its heavily Hispanic population feel much more at home than these theory-laden monstrosities by cutting edge European architects. Here, for example, is the Santa Barbara Mission, built 189 years ago:

Santa Barbara Mission

Personally, I would like to see more public buildings in the Spanish Mission style than in that high school`s Piranesi`s Handicap-Accessible Wheelchair Ramp of Death mode.