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Cloud Chamber

Magnolia Place
Los Angeles, California

Children’s Bureau of Southern California is a 100-year-old non-profit leader in the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect. With the desire to add a pre-school, playground, community meeting rooms, a medical clinic, legal services and financial counseling to the existing family counseling services and administrative support, CBSC purchased a vacated tilt-up warehouse to house their new prototype facility. Straddled between multi-cultural neighborhoods just west of Downtown, the project is meant to be a welcoming destination for the surrounding community to make their own, as well as a catalyst for further economic investment in the area.

While at Rios Clementi Hale Studios, our design challenge was to break down the existing concrete volume to the human scale in a humble and economical way. Saw-cut patterns in the facades both punched out windows, bringing light into the pre-school and tenant areas, and provided a grid for the striping pattern which alternates blue, orange and taupe paint with the exposed natural concrete. Visible from the street, the pre-school’s eight classrooms are organized alongside the building’s western side, spilling out to the adjacent courtyard and playground.

Within the warehouse interior, the 60,000-square-foot center was built out with an industrial-pragmatic approach combined with domestic touches using off-the-shelf interior finishes and custom designed graphics. A central “cloud chamber” conducts natural light from a series of skylights into the main lobby, conference rooms and office area. Since the office area was also not able to have views to the outside, a perimeter storefront system was finished out with custom leaf and flower patterned wallpaper and natural woods, to bring warmth to the space.

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