MVE Institutional - Elementary School for Panorama City, CA Print
Thursday, 07 April 2011 07:10

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Almost 1,000 students attend the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Valley Region Elementary School #6 in Panorama City, with its naturally lit classrooms, fresh-air ventilation and outdoor teaching spaces, designed by Irvine-based MVE Institutional (MVEI). The school houses 38 teaching stations in a 70,360-square-foot facility on an infill parcel of only 4.31 acres in this city located northwest of downtown Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.

MVEI’s design, certified by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), addresses the urban challenges of a large student population, a compact site and a varied neighborhood context.

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner



The new school is bordered by a park and a mix of building types, including apartments, single-family homes and a church. LAUSD mandated that Elementary School #6 blend with the established look of the community, while evoking distinction as a public building. In developing the school’s design, MVEI met with the district, community members, school personnel and Panorama City officials.

To account for the limited space of the site, MVEI designed a “double-loaded” corridor for the main classroom building and articulated the space with multiple courtyards that also serve as flexible outdoor learning environments. The courtyards—situated to be easily supervised—border the center of the campus and the playfields, to maximize the sense of open space and create intimate gathering nodes to encourage small-group interaction and learning opportunities.



MVEI’s master plan places the two-story classroom buildings adjacent to apartment complexes at the eastern edge of the site, away from the single-family homes to the west. This layout groups the multi-story massings together intended as a cohesive sense of scale and provides a natural buffer between the apartments and the playground. The administration building is set back from the street intersection, making way for a small entry plaza and lending visual continuity of public space to the park and church across the way.

The kindergarten building at the southern perimeter allows for convenient pick-up and drop-off, and direct, secure sightlines from the administration building. The food-service building is adjacent to the classrooms and playfields, while vehicular parking is exclusively underground to preserve precious open space. The multi-purpose building sits opposite administration and serves the school for various functions during the day while providing convenient access for the community during the evenings and the weekends.

Light shades of yellow, green, rust and buff are tied together by a deep blue that heralds significant markers, such as entry points, covered walkway and central elevator tower. In addition to grassy playfields, landscaping is maximized wherever feasible.



Throughout the campus, sustainable construction and operation was considered essential, and the CHPS-certified project benefits from the ‘Savings By Design’ program, a state-wide energy conservation program administered by California gas and electric companies. The classrooms are distinguished by an abundance of natural light and fresh-air ventilation, providing a healthy, energy-efficient learning environment. Materials were chosen to be durable and sustainable as well as sensitive to the project budget.

For the design of this Panorama City school, MVEI received a 2009 Leroy F. Greene Planning and Design Award of Honor from California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing and The American Institute of Architects, California Council.

In addition to architect and master planner MVE Institutional, firms collaborating on Valley Region Elementary School #6 are general contractor Pinner Construction, civil engineer VCA Engineers, structural engineer Nabih Youssef & Associates, MEP engineer Debibi & Associates, landscape designer Site Design Studio, food design consultant Commercial Kitchen Design and cost estimator PMC.

MVE Institutional provides civic planning and architecture solutions to improve communities and enhance the experience of all participants. The firm’s specialized institutional focus builds on more than 35 years of MVE & Partners’ experience working with private industry and public agencies, including military, religious, transportation, education, and redevelopment entities. MVE Institutional understands that civic and educational environments are the foundation of any community and form the backdrop against which residents live, learn, work, worship and play. MVE Institutional is dedicated to the creation of meaningful places that serve the needs of both the individual and the community.

Photographs by Bill Hall

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Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2011 10:56