Boston-based Emerson College will mark the formal groundbreaking of its $110-million L.A. campus in Hollywood at 11AM on Thursday, March 8. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning local architect Thom Mayne, the 10-story building at 5960 W. Sunset Blvd., a block east of Technicolor’s offices, will feature faculty apartments, student dormitories, classrooms, administrative offices and other amenities, including a screening room and café.
Set for completion by late 2013, the dramatically conceived facility is meant to provide the arts-oriented Emerson—whose alumni include Jay Leno, Norman Lear, Maria Menounos, Henry Winkler, David Cross and Gina Gershon—with a much higher profile for its semester-long L.A. program, during which 100 juniors and seniors take on internships at film studios, marketing agencies and other industry firms. The program began in 1986 and will expand to 220 students once the new campus is completed. Emerson currently utilizes rented space in Burbank, with students residing in Oakwood Corporate Housing.
Mayne — who AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson controversially tapped last year for a $4 million remodel of just one floor of the academy headquarters on Wilshire Blvd. (the idea has since been dropped) — worked with an alumni advisory committee to develop the plan.
“We walked through Warner Bros. and got very interested in the idea of sound stages,” says the architect of the initial design process.
The committee includes Viacom president Doug Herzog, DreamWorks production co-president Holly Bario, Lionsgate president Kevin Beggs and Gersh Agency co-head Bob Gersh, father of a 2010 graduate.
Emerson is actively seeking donations from alumni to offset the cost of construction, with naming opportunities — including the building itself — still available, although the financing is already in place. Groundbreaking was only able to move forward after the college reached a financial compensation agreement with neighbor Eastwest Studios (the site of recording sessions by musicians ranging from Madonna to Metallica). There had been a dispute regarding potential lost business revenue resulting from construction noise.