FROM Nicolas Berggruen
A westside school district considers building teachers housing It is hard to tell now, but in the middle of the last century Santa Monica was a company town of sorts. Many of its citizens held blue collar jobs at Douglas Aircraft Company at what is now Santa Monica Airport and lived in houses built for them around the airport. That neighborhood is now affluent Sunset Park, regular workforce housing in Santa Monica is almost impossible to come by and now around four fifths of people who work in the city do not live there. Those commuters include many of the teachers in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, and their daily commute is so draining a growing number of them are quitting their jobs. So the Santa Monica-Malibu school district is considering options for creating housing for their staff. “It's not that we would be providing free housing,” explains Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District COO Carey Upton, “but we would help provide them something that they could afford within the budgets and the salaries that we are able to pay.” The district has not nailed down any details. “We know that there are a couple of different options, whether it would be built by the district or it would be working on a piece of land working with a developer,” Upton says. But they are taking cues from Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where school districts face the same challenge. Teachers, city staffers, economic development experts and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen chime in on how and why to bring teachers’ housing closer to schools. Malibu High School. Photo credit: Avishay Artsy.
Berggruen Institute: Herzog & de Meuron's 'secular monastery' A rendering of the Berggruen Institute in the Santa Monica Mountains Image courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron There's an ambitious plan for a site high in the Santa Monica Mountains, west of the 405 and just north of the Getty. Nicolas Berggruen, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, plans to build the Berggruen Institute , a research center and think tank devoted to governance and philosophy, designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. Renderings of the campus show three main components: an almost 100,000-square-foot institute, a one-story, long low building that is lifted off the ground and made of a raw concrete frame and roughened wood panels. Protruding above this are two large spheres, one of which will hold water. Then there's a 28,000-square-foot scholars' village of sunken, adobe-style buildings. The spheres, says Berggruen, "anchor the building but also lets you dream a little bit." Spread across the more than 400 acres of land, a one-time landfill, will be walking trails for the visiting scholars to reflect and explore the restored natural beauty. But there is already pushback against Berggruen's project from neighboring homeowner associations. DnA looks into the purpose of the institute, and how he hopes to win over skeptics of his plans with an ecological approach to the site. We also talk about the other campus Berggruen is building in MacArthur Park, designed by Spanish firm SelgasCano.
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