Our Lady of Guadalupe School

by ROBERT KERR architecture design


Silver Winner

Educational Architecture Built

Professionals Category

Designer / Architect: Robert Kerr, AIA
Studio: ROBERT KERR architecture design
Design Team: Studio Name: ROBERT KERR architecture design
Design Team: Robert Kerr, AIA (Principal), Jessica Gardner, Chris Cortez, Olga Zakharova
Structural: Nous Engineering: Elizabeth Mahlow (Principal), Megan Hanson, Anthony Di Pasupil)
Survey: Denn Engineering
Civil: P. A. Arca
Geology: Norcal Engineering
M, E, P: MEDG International
Photography Credits: Art Gray (Art Gray Photography)
General Contractor: Vancrest Construction
Country: United States
Copyright: Art Gray


Raised over parking, Our Lady Of Guadalupe’s School is a raised, elongated bar building that hovers, covers, zigs and zags as a K-8 school responding to existing buildings, zoning restrictions and its corner hillside site.

Located 20 miles south of Los Angeles (and .75 miles from the beach) in the dense residential beach community of Hermosa Beach, the new 6,000 sf catholic school’s program includes 2 classrooms (STEM & Music), faculty areas and administrative offices.

Taking advantage of the moderate beach climate is achieved by pulling most circulation to the exterior, creating large covered spaces and placing a viewing platform in the middle of the building. Two rounded openings are also placed in the roof to allow natural lighting deep into campus.

Sun studies led to color selections that emphasize shadows as they move across the building’s bright facade each day. Light colors and overhangs were specifically calibrated to create additional shadow patterns.

Exterior color choice and concrete support wall placement gives the building a lightness that seems to defy gravity, and is more dramatic with children playing underneath. The support walls allow parking between, and are pulled from the face of the building so they disappear into shadows below.

Tight zoning restrictions for parking and height were turned into design opportunities by raising the building off the ground, letting the roof rise as it follows the height limit, and placing a new lunch area under the excavated area under the building’s north end.

Stairs anchor each end of the building and reinforce the site’s slope with two different access experiences. One is light, open and sculptural while the second is carved into the hillside.

The southern stair is an open steel stair wrapping a 2-story concrete wall that is a backdrop for people going up and down. Walking around the wall is a performance for the entire play area. Below this stair is a concrete bench that is the ADA under-stair barrier. More importantly, it is a student hangout spot, place for playground equipment and a backpack shelf.

The northern stair is concrete, wedged between the building and street, starts under the building and exits onto the sunny Upper Patio.

New interior corridors have long, uninterrupted windows that mimic the open circulation, and allow faculty to watch children at recess. Just as importantly, students can now observe faculty as they work in the building.

New faculty and student support services allows the school to meet 21st century needs with a Work/Mail Room, Tutoring Rooms, Health Room, Lounge and Conference Room.

The two classrooms are dedicated for STEM and Music which were not available on campus prior to this building. The STEM’s ceiling was left out to expose utilities, framing and ducts so students can learn how the building works. The Music Room’s 12’ tall folding doors allow overflow seating on the exterior Patio for performances and assemblies. When used, the Patio more than doubles the size of the Music Room.

ROBERT KERR architecture design

ROBERT KERR architecture design’s focus is to incorporate the spontaneity and intricacy of contemporary life into specific creations. This is achieved with a rigorous design process that engages the relationships between each client, their social or cultural environments and the specifics of their site. Our approach is holistic while understanding the best architecture (and design) often arises from unconventional, creative thinking. Reclamation while creating innovative formal expressions, financial permanence and environmental sustainability remain our priority. We strive for an economical, sociological and environmental solution on each project. ROBERT KERR architecture design is also committed to sustainable design and finding ways

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