Cervantes Institute

Los Angeles, California. 1991

The building takes the opportunity of both being representative of Spain and its culture and of
understanding and representing the city of Los Angeles. It is conceived around a raised plaza
which has the character of a semipublic space, an agora surrounded by different activities that
respond to their various relationships with the context. It consists of: Three towers of
classrooms overlooking the mountains as a direct reference to the constant presence of the
“tower” in the Spanish landscape; A long wall-building housing the cultural facilities, library, and
exhibition gallery; An auditorium which can be opened to the plaza; A communications tower
which serves as a landmark for the Institute as well as its primary entrance.

The project enhances the use of the street by the pedestrians as a means of recovering its role as a generator of activity. To do so requires that it open itself to the street. This is achieved by the use of the first two floors of the towers as a bookstore, restaurant, and offices for Iberia, the Spanish national airline. Accesible at street level, this gives a public character to both the street and the plaza which cascades down in the form of a grand stair. The exhibition gallery and the auditorium reinforce this idea, transforming the building into a pedestrian concourse in addition to its main function. The activity of the plaza becomes tridimensional with the inclusion of circulation elements at multiple levels of the project, very much in the tradition of the Spanish corralas.

The site chosen is located in the confluence of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Los Angeles. This location was considered ideal as it is sited between the two major universities in the city, USC and UCLA and near the bussiness districts of Century City and Whilshire Boulevard. The area has a mixed residential and commercial use which means it has major activity during most part of the day. Besides, the presence of the Santa Monica mountains gives a fundamental relationship with the site, and, through them, to the history of Los Angeles.