ROBERT F. KENNEDY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Heritage K-12, Cocoanut Grove
Los Angeles, CA

Client: Los Angeles Unified School District
Completion: 2010 - Restoration & Modernization

a collection of schools on the site of the old Ambassador Hotel

Historical Pictures of the Coaconut Grove from Los Angeles Public Library Archive

Recreation of the door details from the historical photo archived.

Coaconut Grove Reconstruction for Student Auditorium

Paul R. Williams Coffee Shop Reconstruction for New Faculty Dining Room

The coffee shop was altered several times from its original condition prior to the demolition of the original iconic Ambassador Hotel in 2006. Some room elements were salvaged and restored. The entire room was authentically reconstructed to its original 1950 state.

The unique floor plan was meticulously maintained and reconstructed from the original drawings. The toilet rooms unusual configuration is a result of the curving north wall of the main dining room.

The Pylon complex was constructed in 1938. It functioned as a marker on Wilshire Blvd. for automobile access to the Ambassador Hotel, which was set back from the street with open lawns. It served as an advertising element for the hotel and celebrated the rise of car culture in Los Angeles. It was a civic urban oasis along Wilshire. Its pylon tower was designed in the 1930s Streamline Moderne style, resembling the GE Building at Rockefeller Center in New York (from the 1930s) with its austerity and well-proportioned setbacks. Its crowning mast is like a scaled-down version of the dirigible mast on the Empire State Building.
In the pre-construction investigation phase it was revealed that the original pylon was contained within the concrete coating applied in the 1970s. The four inch layer of concrete was carefully removed. The perimeter concrete walls were reinforced w/ an inner layer of concrete. Steel straps tie the pylon base to the side walls. The foundations were reinforced. Openings for previous signs in the walls and roof were structurally infilled. Surface blemishes were patched. Overall, the external surfaces were left fairly rough and painted off-white. New lighting at the front was installed.

Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools

Los Angeles Unified School District has built a collection of schools on the site of the old Ambassador Hotel. Collectively called Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, the new campus cost almost $600 million and takes up 24 acres.
IBI Group provided Associate/Historic Architect services for the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools and had primary responsibility for the design, documentation and construction administration services for the historic ‘Cocoanut Grove’ nightclub and Entry Pylon on the site of the former Ambassador Hotel of Hollywood era fame. Historic salvage documents enabled many historic elements of the Hotel to be reused as part of the new school.

The former Cocoanut Grove accommodates an auditorium, cafeteria, Faculty Lounge and Performing Arts classrooms. The Faculty Lounge is the restored 1950’s Coffee Shop designed by Paul R. Williams, a local black architect of national renown associated with the design of many celebrity homes during the period of the 40’s and 50’s.

Additionally, the specifications and methodology for the removal and salvage of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination site located in the Pantry within the former Ambassador Hotel were developed. The Pantry was protected and structurally separated for relocation and potential future use.

Our team worked extensively to ensure the original Paul Williams vision of the coffee shop was impeccably reconstructed/rehabilitated, while successfully meeting the needs for LAUSD under building codes and DSA regulations. We worked carefully to insure compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, focused on reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Role
Historical Research, Designer, Construction Documents
For
Los Angeles Unified School District
Date
Completion 2010
Type
K-12 Education – Restoration & Modernization
URL
www.rfkcommunityschools.org/