The completion of Hersher Hall at the Skirball Cultural Center represents the completion of the Skirball Cultural Center Campus in it’s totality. This last phase of the Cultural Center is a venue with the largest capacity on-site. The project is composed of an entry courtyard, pre-function space, ballroom, and outdoor garden rooms, sitting on-top of an existing below grade parking structure and nestled at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The landscape spaces of this project were quite complex. The entry court is shaped and compressed by the vehicular entry ramp into the parking structure and the shallow depth between the plaza level and the top of the parking structure slab below. The minimal design is anchored on one end by a fountain which is intended to provide some white noise to help dampen the noise of the cars on the Freeway which was just across the way.
The Olive Grove is connected to the Entry Court and is a small contemplative space with a small fountain and sitting area at the center of the grove of trees. The Olive Grove is very symbolic to the Jewish Cultural Center and also deeply personal to the leadership.
The Garden Rooms adjacent to the Ballroom, were intended to be a visual extension to the ballroom space, provide an area for a bride and groom to get married in the garden, and also provide a lush screen against the 25 foot tall retaining wall, holding back the Santa Monica Mountains – and all of this within a space only 15’ deep. Through many design iterations and in depth discussions with the Skirball Leadership, we designed a garden that would visually connect with the Santa Monica Mountains above. While not all of the plantings were native to the Santa Monica Mountains, we utilized a woodland garden palette that would thrive in the small space and low light conditions that exist and is marked by lush ferns and ephemeral plantings as well as Japanese Maple trees and both climbing and hanging vines.
Pelli Clarke Pelli, Adamson Associates International, Thornton Tomasetti, Ned Kahn, Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, ARUP