The Skirball Cultural Center is an educational institution in Los Angeles, California, devoted to sustaining Jewish heritage and American democratic ideals. The center forms a string of interconnected buildings nestled into a steep hillside. The design seeks to create a place of meeting and meaning, extroverted and inviting, that encompasses museum galleries and performance spaces, conference and event facilities, classrooms, courtyards, and gardens. The program is used for a range of educational, cultural, civic, and community functions. Underground parking accommodates 900 cars. Indoor and outdoor spaces are integrated throughout the complex, creating a series of gardens, an amphitheater, and courtyards. The campus has been built in phases and the buildings are stretched across a hillside; through this form, the Skirball embodies its mission as a cultural village.
The garden setting is foregrounded through a series of courtyards and gardens, which open to views of the hills beyond and further integrate the building with the natural beauty of the site. Celebrating California’s uniquely comfortable climate, the program exploits both indoor and outdoor spaces, creating fluidity between inside and outside, integrating architecture and landscape. The architectural syntax, which incorporates load-bearing cast-in-place concrete walls and colonnades inlaid with stone bands, facilitates a systematic and efficient casting system. Recessed bands cast into the concrete walls provide a place for form ties and casing joints, which are concealed beneath inlaid pink Tadoussac granite. The stone works in concert with the grey concrete, resonating with the California tradition of load-bearing plaster masonry.