Parallax Designs New Gym for Sierra Canyon Lower School

Parallax Designs New Gym for Sierra Canyon Lower School


Parallax has been commissioned to design a new gym for Sierra Canyon’s Lower School campus. This gym will feature a fold-out stage for performing arts and a telescoping bleacher system across a competition basketball court. The proposed gym is sited next to an equestrian trail and the school’s recently expanded athletic fields, centering it in a scenic and vibrant section of Chatsworth.

In order to create a welcoming and student-friendly facade, the prefabricated metal structure will be painted in green, orange, and copper. The color scheme has been chosen to create an aesthetically arresting palette that subtly fosters a stimulating energy conducive to play.

A long horizontal stretch of clerestory windows on the north-facing side floods the gym with natural lighting, while brick pavers provide elegant pathways from the lower gymnasium to nearby campus outbuildings.

Manzanita School Embraces Environmental Stewardship

Manzanita School Embraces Environmental Stewardship


What does environmental stewardship mean in an architectural sense? The environment becomes a teacher of sustainability to those who inhabit it. Architects must anticipate what kind of behavior the built environment inspires in people, and how people will correspondingly interact with the larger natural environment.

Manzanita School encourages students to reconnect with nature. By partnering with Opsis Architecture, Parallax has been able to create a design that tangibly represents the principles of the school while acting as an eco-conscious steward of the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains. The gateway and learning center for the campus incorporates exterior spaces as an integral component of learning. The entry portal connects to a multi-level path that gradually ascends the hilly terrain, ensuring that students will be immersed in nature each time they enter the campus. Once they ascend the path, visitors enter the learning center. The learning center makes use of the concept of an “outdoor room,” whereby students are surrounded by nature while simultaneously being kept within the framework of a structured learning environment. Both the path and the learning center foster a connection with nature in a welcoming way while minimizing human impact on the site.

Rockin' the Free World: The Silverlake Conservatory of Music Enriches Its Community

Rockin' the Free World: The Silverlake Conservatory of Music Enriches Its Community


What is the value of a musical education? While no one can place a monetary figure on the thrill of being able to strike that first power chord, roughly 600 people were willing to pay $2,000 a head to attend The Silverlake Conservatory of Music's annual fundraising concert. Neil Young headlined the star-studded bill, which was held at the Paramour Mansion in Los Angeles. Musical luminaries such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack Black and Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong were all in attendance to help raise money for the school, which provides music lessons to both children and adults.


The brainchild of Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Silverlake Conservatory of Music currently operates out of a rented facility located at the intersection of Sunset and Sanborn streets at Sunset Junction. The Conservatory estimates that they need to raise approximately $6 million dollars to purchase a permanent home. Parallax has been developing potential schemes for this future permanent facility, which would include teaching facilities, a large multipurpose space and a 250-seat auditorium for public and private events.


Before the night was over, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers had called for a "moment of noise" to honor incomparable literary songwriter Lou Reed, who had passed away only a few days before the concert. Reed had often spoken of the importance of teachers and a supportive environment in his musical development. By providing a musical education to the needy youth of the community, The Silverlake Conservatory of Music ensures that music will always be an integral part of Silverlake.


Link to original LA Times article:,0,2976162.story#axzz2lOTlWnaI

Parallax Awarded test

Parallax Awarded "Big Rock Ranch" Campus Master Plan


After competing against seven other well-respected architectural firms, Parallax has been selected to design the conceptual master plan for Big Rock Ranch, a private school located in Old Topanga Canyon. Parallax has partnered with Opsis Architecture from Oregon, a firm which will contribute its specialized Net Zero/sustainability experience to the project. 


Headed by Dr. Paul Astin, former principal of the Mariposa School for Global Education, Big Rock Ranch will be a learning environment that emphasizes "human ecology." Students will be as involved in their studies as they are in their community. The dramatic topography of the site will play a key role in the development of the master plan.


Parallax was chosen in part because of our two decades of experience designing integrated and sustainable master plans throughout Southern California. We are looking forward to creating a campus that honors the historical legacy of the Old Topanga Canyon site while simultaneously anticipating the needs of a globally competitive learning institution. 

Phase II Construction at Sierra Canyon Athletic Fields Proceeding Smoothly

Phase II Construction at Sierra Canyon Athletic Fields Proceeding Smoothly


Thanks in part to a tightly organized construction crew and excellent weather, Phase II of the Sierra Canyon School Athletic Fields is more than halfway complete. The new facilities include a CIF regulation baseball field, parking lot, locker rooms, and ample spectator seating.


Dual sets of bleacher seats flank the new baseball diamond, and afford a view of the home and visitor dugouts. The bleachers include customized touches such as an elevated photo platform and a ramp for universal access. To accomodate visitors with energy-efficient vehicles, six spaces in the parking lot are being prepared to serve as Green Vehicle Charging Stations, while the concrete block walls will feature anti-graffiti coating. A grouping of lockers near the southeast corner of the fields makes it easy for students and visitors to ride up and secure their bicycles.


LED site lighting will keep the grounds illuminated during night games while helping Sierra Canyon meet its energy efficiency goals. In a stylish synergy of safety and energy-efficiency, eleven light bollards will line the field perimeter. School administrators are looking forward to using the soon-to-be completed fields for competitive athletics, training exercises, and physical education classes. 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education is Changing Classroom Design

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education is Changing Classroom Design


Recent studies show that students learn best when they can apply theoretical instruction to develop tangible solutions on their own. This research is driving new thinking about classroom design and how schools can deliver more effective education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Parallax is deeply engaged in this search for ever more responsive instructional facilities, and we specialize in helping educators take full advantage of the latest advances in school planning and teaching technologies.


The ratio of available jobs to qualified job seekers in the STEM fields is almost 2 to 1. By 2018, the number of STEM-related occupations in the U.S. will grow from 6.8 million to 8 million. Surprisingly, people with lower levels of education in STEM earn more than those with higher levels of education in non-STEM fields.


Parallax’s designs for both the Berkeley Hall School and the Sierra Canyon School embody this STEM-integrated approach.


Research Sources:


Georgetown University: Center on Education and the Workforce, October 20, 2011 by Anthony P. Carnevale, Director.


Also: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration

Parallax Hires Three New Employees

Parallax Hires Three New Employees


In conjunction with our growing workload, Parallax has hired three new employees: Wendy Hamill, a finance manager, Carolina Rocha, an architectural designer, and Julia Ingalls, a marketing coordinator. The three have relatively diverse backgrounds that compliment the overall mission and makeup of the firm.


Wendy Hamill grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. She later completed her degree in accounting at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio before moving to Chicago. She was the CFO at Didi Hirsch for seven years before moving into financial consulting for non-profits, and she now serves on the Board of Trustees of the Culver City Education Foundation. Her desire to work with organizations that make a positive contribution to society motivated her to join the Parallax team. She currently lives with her three children in Culver City.


Born in Argentina, Carolina Rocha moved with her family to Miami, Florida, when she was fourteen years old. Growing up with her painter mother and construction builder father, she has always loved architecture and design. After landing a scholarship to study at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Carolina studied under Eric Owen Moss, who served as her thesis advisor.


As a freelance writer who has worked at Frank O. Gehry and Associates, UCLA graduate Julia Ingalls is working with Parallax to cleanly convey the history and outlook of their practice. She is intrigued by how shifts in global infrastructure and socioeconomic trends affect the built environment. She lives in Culver City.

STEM Symposium at Archer School

STEM Symposium at Archer School


On Saturday, May 4, The Archer School for Girls held its first ever STEM symposium at their campus in Brentwood. During the four-hour conference, there were twenty-one presentations by both groups and individual Archer students on a broad range of science topics.


Joseph and his daughter, Mona, attended five half-hour presentations and were very impressed with the range and thoughtfulness of the investigations.


All of the students created experiments to test hypotheses they developed with their science teachers and advisors. As is typical of science, students found that hypotheses needed to be revised in light of results; experimental apparatuses had to be redesigned to work properly; and new directions explored when original experiments went awry. But that’s the point of science, to search for truth in the face of real-world challenges to questions.


One of the highlights of the afternoon was a keynote presentation by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D. on her best-selling book “Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health”. Dr. Natterson-Horowitz shared her insights into the relationship between the physical and mental health of various animals and their human relatives.



Extending Design Research With 3-D Printing

Extending Design Research With 3-D Printing


Parallax just installed its latest piece of computer hardware, the MakerBot Replicator 2. This new device is a three-dimensional printer. We now have the ability to create a physical object from a computer file within the studio.

Physical models have always been an important research tool for design investigations at Parallax. This new printer lets design teams transition directly from 3-D image files to scaled physical models. Three-dimensional printing allows rapid development and modification of architectural objects to achieve optimal design results.

The importance of this technology lies in the notion that printing small-scale objects generated in the computer is an interim step to manufacturing full-size architectural components using computer-aided manufacturing techniques.

Learning Environments for Tomorrow

Learning Environments for Tomorrow


The changing nature of educational instruction has led to the creation of learning environments that transcend their traditional roles. Issues of computer literacy, instantaneous global communication and environmental sustainability have become primary drivers of school facility design.


Our work at Parallax has been a quest to understand the many variables that influence the design of learning spaces and balance them to produce effective educational environments that support the aspirations of 21st century students and teachers.


The role of communication technology in the classroom is intensifying.

71% of students say they have access to more advanced technology at home than they do at school.

63% of teachers say their students know how to use technology better than they do.

62% of college students own a smart phone. 67% of those students use their smart phone for academic purposes, this is twice the number reported in 2011. (Page 14)

52% of college students use an e-portfolio. This is a sevenfold increase from 2010. (Page 29)


Solar power is becoming essential to a sustainable campus.

12% of all commercial sector energy used in the United States is consumed by schools.

56% of school electricity consumption is for lighting.

8.4 watts per square foot is the average energy required to power school facilities. Solar panels produce between 11-16 watts per square foot of panel.

1 hour of noontime summer sun falling on the United States is about equal to the nation's annual electricity demand. (Page 34)