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David Saperstein Middle School

Los Angeles, California

New Private Middle School for the Stephen S. Wise Temple

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"You have been instrumental in helping us develop a world-class middle school."

Norman Fogel, FTA, Stephen Wise Temple
  • “Our new beautiful, state-of the-art facility, built with such love by our community, needs to be a place where students feel safe and nurtured, challenged and supported during these less than calm times in their lives.” Jason L. Ablin, Head of School


  • Entry courtyard - Generous overhangs are incised with deep slots capped with skylights. The resulting spaces are cool and inviting during the day; engaging and animated at night.
  • Drop off area - Textures of walls and pavement vary from ‘high tech’ at the south entry plaza adjacent the administration building to a more rustic and rugged treatment at the north end, which is terminated by a hillside amphitheater.
  • Main Entry Plaza - It is obvious from the first point of arrival at the circular entry plaza that this is not a typical middle school. The welcoming vista is flanked by a soothing fountain to one side and rugged stone walls on the other.
  • Village Street showing sheltered locker area - The ground plane steps with the topography and each vertical transition becomes an opportunity for outdoor seating, special planting and even fountains.
  • Village Street - The interconnected chain of plazas and loggias becomes the common space of this urban village. Every classroom, assembly room and support space have a front door and window bays on this street, providing transparency, a strong connection between indoor and outdoor learning spaces.
  • Interior view of multi purpose room - A multi-purpose room near the entrance to the school can be used for lectures, dining and special events and features a wall of folding glass doors which allows activities to spill outside into the adjacent crescent shaped courtyard.
  • Art Studio - The urban village is simultaneously about intimate, comfortable, personalized learning spaces and a global experience of collaboration, partnering and discovery.
  • Village Street - “Learning for a middle school student is as much a social/emotional event as it is an intellectual one,” Jason Ablin, Head of School. Students gather under an outdoor loggia.
  • Typical Classroom - Each classroom has a small resource library alcove with comfortable lounge chairs; a high volume, sloped ceiling space with angled tables which can be used individually or clustered for seminars and group projects; and state-of-the-art technology everywhere.
  • View of Rooftop - Window bays and pop-up clearstories, breezeways and projecting overhangs are constantly framing views of rugged, brush covered hillsides, interconnecting the extremes that are part and parcel of living in Southern California.
  • Outdoor recreation space and climbing wall - The amphitheater at the upper end of the site doubles as a basketball and tennis court and its 35 foot retaining wall has been equipped as a professional grade climbing wall.
  • Aerial view of site - Perched on a rugged stone shelf, carved out of the hillside between Mulholland Drive and the Sepulveda tunnel, high above Los Angeles, David Saperstein Middle School is both physical and pedagogical embodiment of an urban village.

people involved in this project:

John R. Dale

FAIA, LEED AP
Pre K-12 + Community Education Design Studio