Zev Yaroslavsky Family Support Center
Los Angeles, California
Zev Yaroslavsky
Family Support Center
Los Angeles, California

Family + Support. Just the name of the project alone tells you what the design needs to do: provide an uplifting and healthy place for a cross section of humanity who uses the center in diverse emotional and economic conditions. The architects were inspired to create a humane and respectful experience for people who use L.A. County’s critical county services. The San Fernando Valley Family Support Center consolidates seven county Health and Human Services programs into one multi-agency location, with the goal to improve interdepartmental collaboration among its 1,000 employees who work to enhance the well-being of children and families through the effective delivery of support services focused on health, safety, economic well-being, education and workforce readiness.  

The Vision and Design

The campus reflects a modern, forward-looking civic institution intent on making a statement that is transparent, welcoming and lasting. It is intended to instill a sense of community pride and represents a building of value that is a proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money. 

As the design team immersed themselves in the project, they learned that individuals and families visiting these facilities are almost always experiencing significant stress and difficulty. Believing that design can aid in reducing these feelings, we set about to facilitate experiences that decrease the stress of building users.

Buildings are pushed to the perimeter, creating a safe, welcoming, sustainable and community-friendly green campus core. This core is car-free and includes a playground, walking paths and gathering spaces. The parking structure, located mostly below ground, forms two of the walls of the central garden. Generous landscaping and retail enlivens the street edge and creates a buffer to the adjacent neighborhood. The entry level is designed to accommodate up to 1,000 client/caseworker meetings per day in a variety of settings while maintaining clearly defined security zones.

Site-specific art installations in the multi-story entrance hall and courtyard by local artists create a cohesive narrative that links the indoors with the landscaped garden at the core of the site, as well as expressing a sense of community and humanity.