In Frank Gehry’s oeuvre there are the big, career-defining projects—like Walt Disney Hall and the Louis Vuitton Foundation—and there are the minor works: buildings that have smaller footprints and more humble design ambitions but are fortified with good intensions. Gehry Partners has been dabbling in this latter category of late, first with the Beckmen YOLA Center, a community center and youth music conservatory built for the LA Phil’s youth orchestra housed in a retrofitted bank building in Inglewood, and recently, a new 20,000-square-foot campus for Children’s Institute in Watts.
The firm provided architectural services pro bono to the 100-year-old support organization, which addresses poverty and health inequity. It’s an imprimatur that is as much philanthropic as it is architectural—perhaps even more so, as Gehry’s name conveys instant recognition to board members and donors. “The Children’s Institute is about helping families who are victims of trauma and violence,” said Sam Gehry, associate at Gehry Partners and Frank’s son. “[Its mission] is something that we are passionate about.”