Emerson College Is Building a Giant See-Through Film School on Sunset Boulevard | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Emerson College Is Building a Giant See-Through Film School on Sunset Boulevard

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Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 8:00 AM

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Remember when we told you, about a year ago, that East Coast film schools were pining for westward expansion?

Well in the case of Emerson College, whose mothership is situated in Boston, that day has come. On Thursday morning, Emerson officials, along with Councilman Eric Garcetti and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, will be gathering in front of the patch of dirt at Sunset Boulevard and Gordon (right across from the Old Spaghetti Factory, which was ironically demolished in the dead of night last month to accomodate a new high-rise) for a groundbreaking ceremony. And for what do we break this ground?

A $110 million, 10-story, 100,000-square-foot, totally insane-looking transparent box.

The facility will house a couple hundred students on Emerson's semester-long exchange program from Boston -- it'll have dorms, classrooms, auditoriums, restaurants, etc., all rolled into one.

Its aesthetic is a far cry from the cozy old brick of the college's East Coast digs, and very much a chapter in the local effort to turn the Sunset Strip into a classier, more functional version of the Vegas Strip. (See: ye old megagym videotron monstrosity being battled by residents to the west.)

Lee Pelton, president of Emerson, says the futuristic film school "is part of a redevelopment of that part of Hollywood. It has received great support from the city, and in particular great support from [Councilman] Eric Garcetti."

Don't doubt it for a second! The building, designed by architect Thom Mayne (known for his huge, light, almost falling-apart structures, including the CalTrans building with the giant address downtown) is right up Councilman Garcetti's alley. Big, flashy, ultramodern, one-upping New York and giving Hollywood another push toward "elegant density."

And nearby residents, who have been known to put up a fight against new development in the area, will probably be too preoccupied with the 25-story skyscraper going in across the way to complain they're living in the shadow of a 24/7 party box.

Emerson initially fought some legal battles with next-door studios worried about the noise, but that's all settled now, says Pelton. Classes are set to begin in 2014.

Behold the radical new Emerson campus at 5960 West Sunset Boulevard, whose architect calls it a "pearl inside its shell":

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Here's the final environmental impact report, if you're into that kind of thing. And just a warning for all you L.A. dreamers migrating from Boston: The storied glamor of Hollywood is mostly just an urban legend. (Unless you consider toothless bums with business cards a thing of glamor.) Good thing you won't ever need to set foot outside your self-sustainable box!

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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