Architecturally, the term “public school” conjures up images of a brick utilitarian style that would make any industrial complex jealous. Most of the public schools I attended had a watered down modern aesthetic, the finishes were selected primarily for their ease of cleaning, and the playgrounds were a perfect balance of steel and asphalt.
Although one of the buildings from my high school was built well before the modern movement invaded the American built environment. It was a beautifully detailed brick and concrete Gothic Revival building constructed in 1904. There was a sense of grandeur and hierarchy that I found inspirational (except when I was trying to be on time to my English class – nothing inspired me for that class). Beautiful, yes – extravagant, no.
Here is the Los Angeles high school that resembles more like something in Dubai than the public schools I was used to. There’s a point in which a school can be designed and constructed to be an inspirational focal point for the student body as well as the larger community as a whole, where a sense of civic pride and dignity are exuded, and where the form of the building promotes the function of learning. That point is no longer visible from this school’s rear view mirror.
The form of a building should promote the function, and the function should inspire the form. This school will stand as proof that gaudiness doesn’t make for better students.