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Nine Striking (and Sustainable) Designs for L.A.'s Community Colleges

There's a sustainable building boom happening at Los Angeles Community College District. See the new designs inside.

The Los Angeles Community College District is massive. It serves about 250,000 students annually on nine campuses spread throughout 36 cities in the Los Angeles region—making it one of the most geographically diverse land owners in the city. In 2001, the district announced an ambitious green building plan that would radically change the way LACCD operated, from using renewable materials to championing energy efficiency. Vast improvements were planned for each of the nine campuses, each of which would reinvigorate dense urban neighborhoods and reach some of the most underserved residents in the county.

But such efforts—and the $6 billion in taxpayer funds that paid for them—have not been without controversy. Last week in The Los Angeles Times, LACCD got slammed for a solar-gone-sour project that the Times claimed could have cost the district $10 million. But what the Times doesn't mention at all is the sustainable building boom that's happening right now at LACCD schools—thanks to nine architectural firms who have contributed exciting designs for the nine campuses. The concepts, which were each presented at an event last week named 9x9x9, are currently underway across the city.

While LACCD may have miscalculated its ability to effectively power the campuses with solar energy (a technology which, to be honest, has yet to prove its full potential across the construction world), this move to build what are essentially nine community centers will be far more valuable for the neighborhoods LACCD serves. Creating gorgeous, sustainable landmark buildings for higher education will not only provide a healthier, more inspiring learning environment for hundreds of thousands of students, it might just lure some people back to school.

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