The Children’s Institute (CII) of Los Angeles will open a 200,000 square foot campus this summer designed by Frank Gehry. The new development will provide CII with its first purpose-built home in LA’s Watts neighborhood, and is designed to accommodate programs and provide resources to this economically disadvantaged community.

CII has been a dedicated non-profit organization for 116 years. Although this is their first campus in Watts, the Children’s Institute has worked with the community since 2007. They have partnered with families, as well as other community organizations, to provide services such as counseling and workshops. This campus located at Success Avenue and East 102nd Street in South Los Angeles will centralize the operations of the Children’s Institute in the region.

Gehry’s design aims to minimize the mass of the building, while showcasing the important community work that takes place within. The facade is broken down to relate to the adjacent single-family residences using simple interlocking volumes of plaster and corrugated iron siding. The priority was to create a welcoming building, adapted to the surrounding neighborhood and accessible.

The interior is bathed in natural light thanks to the large windows and numerous skylights. Double-height public spaces are sized to accommodate larger community gatherings, while offices are open to the central atrium on the second floor. A series of small group and individual therapy rooms are located adjacent to the atrium, each with large windows to fill the space with natural light.

Designed for the community

The Watts campus was intentionally designed to establish a connection between CII and the Watts community. The building functions as both a community center and a therapy center, and provides space for neighborhood meetings and events. The center will house a number of outreach programs that directly address issues within the community, including the Watts Gang Task Force and the LAPD Community Safety Partnership. Programs include:

  • Toddler socialization
  • Individual and group consultations
  • youth development
  • Parenting workshops
  • Workforce Development/Employment Support
  • Fatherhood project sessions

“The new Watts campus is a wonderful symbol of the Children’s Institute’s continued commitment to our city and this neighborhood in particular,” said Emada Tingirides, Los Angeles Police Department Captain and Children’s Institute Trustee. “I know my patrol officers who work in the Watts community have a partner as we try to address some of the concerns, trauma and violence in the community. The Children’s Institute continues to be a stalwart partner for the Watts families year after year.

The Children’s Institute has planned a community celebration on June 25 at the new Watts Campus to welcome families and allow them to enjoy a day of entertainment and activities.

Construction team:

Owner and Developer: CII

Official architect: Chait & Company

Design Architect: Gehry Partners, LLP

MEP Engineer: Schnackel Engineering

Structural engineer: Workpoint Engineering

Landscape architect: Elysian Landscapes

General contractor/construction manager: Oltmans Construction Co.

Photo by Oltmans. Courtesy of the Children’s Institute.
Watts Campus Children's Institute int
Photo by Oltmans. Courtesy of the Children’s Institute.

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