Groundbreaking Ceremony for Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles' new Headquarters

Location

Los Angeles, CA

Owner

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Architect

House & Robertson Architects

Construction Manager / Owner's Rep

S.L. Leonard & Associates

Project Size

34,280 SF

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LAFLA Will Have a New Home

MATT Construction was delighted to join House & Robertson Architects, S.L. Leonard & Associates, and the leadership and staff of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles at the January 19, 2016 groundbreaking for the nonprofit’s new headquarters at 8th & Union near Downtown Los Angeles.  The new building will replace LAFLA’s former Central Office at the same location with a larger, more modern space tailored to the current and future needs of the organization and its clients.

Rendering of new LAFLA Headquarters by House & Robertson Architects
Rendering of new LAFLA Headquarters by House & Robertson Architects

This capital project comes at a good time for LAFLA.  They had long ago outgrown their central office, which at any rate needed a number of costly repairs due to deferred maintenance and to incorporate important upgrades like high-tech infrastructure, seismic reinforcement and better accessibility.  With 34,280 sq. ft. of space on 4 floors, the new headquarters will also have enough room to allow LAFLA to consolidate its current West Office into the same building.  The West Office, located on Crenshaw near Olympic, is a rented space whose lease will soon expire, in a building that’s been put up for sale.

House & Robertson Architects are designing the new building to meet LAFLA’s specific needs now, with the flexibility to adapt to future requirements.   Key features that LAFLA is especially looking forward to include:

• 11,490 sq. ft. of ground-floor parking, providing more spaces for clients, visitors and staff, with barrier-free spaces for people with disabilities.

• An inviting, user-friendly reception area, also on the ground floor.

• Barrier-free access to all floors for clients, staff and visitors with disabilities.

• Attractive privacy-affording client intake and meeting spaces incorporating noise-reduction technology.

• Adjacent secure areas where children can play within view of their parents as they discuss sensitive issues with their advocates.

• Integrated interpretation services for clients with hearing or sight impairments or limited English ability.

• Versatile meeting spaces, including a flexible-use room with movable walls to accommodate training sessions, board meetings, community forums and conferences.

• A rooftop entertainment space.

• Upgraded infrastructure to allow LAFLA to better meet remote client needs (e.g., via video conferencing) and to facilitate service delivery across LAFLA’s heavily-populated and congested service area.

• A self-help Resource Center in the lobby with internet-based legal resources, materials, one-stop referrals and access to social service agencies.

LAFLA’s leadership also anticipates the significant role the new building itself will play as a transformative mechanism: a tangible symbol of the importance of LAFLA’s work, the seriousness of the issues LAFLA addresses, and the high regard in which the organization holds its staff, volunteers and clients alike.  The modern, clean, welcoming environment will embolden vulnerable neighbors and communities to seek justice, and energize the staff and volunteers to continue and expand their efforts to provide high-quality legal assistance to people who look to LAFLA for access to justice.

Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to a standing room only crowd at the LAFLA Groundbreaking
Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to a standing room only crowd at the LAFLA Groundbreaking

Since its founding in 1929, LAFLA has grown into one of the largest and finest public interest law firms in the country, and—with a staff of 132, including 64 lawyers, plus paralegals, social workers, support staff—is the largest law firm for the poor in California. Bolstered by volunteers ranging from practicing attorneys and paralegals, retirees with a spectrum of skills, and even high school students who assist with administrative functions, every year LAFLA provides nearly 12,000 individuals and families with legal services, and assists another 20,000 through referrals, workshops and community outreach activities. LAFLA’s four Self-Help Legal Access Centers help an additional 35,000 litigants.  LAFLA’s service including helping individuals and families avoid homelessness, escape domestic violence, obtain safety net benefits and health care, defend themselves against consumer fraud, identity theft, and exploitative employment practices, and seek protections available to torture survivors and victims of human trafficking.  LAFLA also tackles the systemic problems that foster poverty by helping grassroots organizations to develop local jobs, affordable housing units, youth services and other social programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

LAFLA actively collaborates with a network of public and private partners in other service areas–including numerous service providers, community-based organizations, religious groups, government agencies, the judiciary, academic institutions, and state and national groups acting on behalf of low-income people—to expand access to justice, identify emerging community needs, and change laws and policies that adversely affect poor people and communities and undermine their self-sufficiency.

MATT Construction is proud to help create this new headquarters facility that will, for years to come, enhance LAFLA’s capacity to provide high-quality and essential legal services to the unrepresented and underserved in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times article about the groundbreaking can be found HERE.