A starkly modern grid-patterned skyscraper within the heart of Los Angeles, the Vertical Campus, designed by architects Gail Peter Borden and Brian D. Andrews, is a tower that “engages urbanity,” and seeks to energize and engage the community by re-orienting the landscape from the city’s horizontal sprawl to a vertical complex.

The tower is located over the Los Angeles River, using the building’s base to generate hydroelectricity, and is a mix of residential, commercial, garden and civic spaces.

Instead of just being a skyscraper, though, the Vertical Campus seeks to help re-envision how to unite people through design, how to house new growth in an already dense city, and how to blend complex building systems to unite an existing complex urban fabric. The building will, through its design and also programmatic elements, be a literal bridge that unites the people of different economic and social classes that currently reside on the opposite sides of the river.

In terms of what it houses and how it’s powered, the Vertical Campus has it all. Wind turbines join the hydroelectric to provide energy, as does photovoltaic film; horizontal farms breed algae for energy use while hanging gardens grow vegetables and flowers for residents; rainwater is collected and purified; and all of the city’s transportation paths – bike, pedestrian, car, subway, train – run across the building’s base, unifying the building in another way with its landscape.

The tower is a “steel cross-braced super-structure” that can stand strong in the earthquake-prone city. A “triangular field element” run throughout the structure provides this support; located inside this “primary seismic structure” two secondary structures, one an inner, the other, the outer. The different layers allow for a reconfiguration of units within the building as needed. The Vertical Campus provides a holistic vision of all the things a modern skyscraper can, and should, offer.

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