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First Expansion in 30 Years Under Way at Art Institute : Studios, Library Will Be Added at Otis/Parsons

September 11, 1988

Ground was broken last week on a more than $12-million addition to Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, the first expansion of the 70-year-old institution in 30 years.

Designed by Johnson Fain & Pereira Associates, which also developed the master plan for the school at Wilshire Boulevard and Carondolet Street, near MacArthur Park, the expansion will include a four-story, 450-space parking structure and a five-story, 60,000-square-foot building with art and design studios, a 400-seat auditorium, library, and faculty and departmental offices.

Scheduled for completion in September, 1990, the new buildings will increase the size of the campus by one-third and will accommodate the growth of Otis/Parsons well into the next century, according to a spokesman for the school. Otis/Parsons is an academic division of New York City's New School for Social Research.

Otis Art Institute was founded in 1918 by Los Angeles County on land deeded in 1917 by Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

Since 1978, when Otis Art Institute merged with Parsons School of Design, Otis/Parsons has seen its enrollment increase from fewer than 100 full-time students to about 750 from 43 states and 27 foreign countries.

To help finance the construction project, Otis/Parsons received lead gifts from the Goldsmith family and the Ahmanson foundations and has so far received major gifts and grants from Carlton Beal, Abraham Bolsky, Iris Cantor, Marvin Davis, J. Paul Getty Trust, James Irvine Foundation, George Konheim, Morris Levinson, Ben Maltz and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.

A large number of studios are exclusively north lighted, according to R. Scott Johnson, partner in charge of design for the Los Angeles-based architectural firm and designer of the new facility. The upper four levels are primarily given over to more private working studios connected by semi-public circulation/exhibition gallery space, he added.

Emmet L. Wemple & Associates is the landscape architect for the expansion and Tishman Construction Corp. of California is the construction manager.

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