DLR to Modernize $150 Million High School

LOS ANGELES — Design firm DLR Group won a conceptual design competition with a unanimous vote by the judges to modernize Beverly Hills High School at an estimated cost of $150 million.

The firm beat out three other finalists for the contract to design the iconic high school, a part of the Beverly Hills Unified School District. The design team included architects from DLR’s Los Angeles, Seattle and Orlando offices.

The firm’s designers are familiar with the Beverly Hills district area, with a current project in the works at Hawthrone Elementary School.

The completed BHHS project will boast 380,000 square feet of modernized construction, although the specifics haven’t been decided as the project is still in its initial phases.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. We still have to go through the geotechnical, and then the master planning will start sometime in the summertime of next year,” said Julio Palacio, architect and the school district’s project manager for all capital improvement projects.

High School Concerned With County’s Subway Plans

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has tentative plans to drill a subway tunnel 70 feet below Beverly Hills High School.

Los Angeles is not new to the idea of providing an underground tunnel system for mass transit. The city’s current subway only covers about 20 miles of the city’s 468 square miles.

In 1986 there was a brief tunneling ban due to increased fears that construction of the tunnel could cause an explosion of methane gas. Currently, the concern is damage from earthquakes.

The district has expressed opposition to the subway plan and wants Metro to move their sights away from the school.

“The reports show several faults crossing the north end of the BHHS campus and running under several BHHS buildings,” said Lisa Korbatov, president of the Board of Education for Beverly Hills Unified School District. “These faults are all part of the Newport-Inglewood fault, a major seismic fault system in the state.”

The faults, along with pressure from the school district, may cause the Transporation Authority to reroute the subway, but the modernization by DLR Group will continue without debate.

Although the master planning hasn’t officially begun, creative innovations are being discussed.

“A few existing buildings will be removed to make way for new, state-of-the-art academic buildings featuring flexible spaces and green roofs for gathering and collaboration,” said Brett Hobza, principal with DLR Group.

Design team ideas include a pedestrian mall in the center of campus, upgrades to or replacement of three theaters, and preserving the iconic 1920s academic building as the doorway to the campus.

DLR is taking suggestions from BHUSD, students, staff, and community members into the planning process to make the school a reflection of those involved with its success.

“The initial concept was developed based on information we gathered from the district, but now it’s time to sit down with the users and design what they envision for the new Beverly Hills High School,” Hobza said.