“I already changed my Facebook status to say I’m never moving back East,” said Lauren Grinberg-Funes ’14 as she arrived from Charleston, South Carolina, with her mother, Kathleen Grinberg-Funes, at Emerson College Los Angeles. Although she has never been to the West Coast, Grinberg-Funes said she is thrilled that “the Class of 2014 is christening Emerson Los Angeles.” The Performing Arts major will intern at Viacom doing casting for CMT (Country Music Television).
On January 12, nearly 130 students began taking up residence in the stunning new Emerson College Los Angeles building on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of historic Hollywood, greeted by unseasonably warm weather, even for LA.
The College founded its Los Angeles program more than 27 years ago, but this semester marks the first time the program has been housed in its own facility. Several other colleges operate programs for students in Los Angeles, but Emerson is the only institution with its own building. In future semesters, more than 200 students will live, study, and work at the center.
The eagerly anticipated day was years in the making, requiring countless hours of effort on the part of Emerson staffers to prepare the building for its opening semester.
Almost nine days ago, Tim Taylor ’14 climbed into a car in New Hampshire and drove across the country to Los Angeles, to be among the first to experience life in the iconic new building.
“Welcome to Emerson Los Angeles,” said Kerri McManus, director of internships and student services, as she, the residence life staff, RAs, and eight student helpers greeted the students moving in from near and far, including Taylor, who drove 3,000 miles, and Ramon Calderon ’14 and his family members, who traveled just a few miles to drop him off. The incredibly well-organized process went smoothly, with an RA waiting with the familiar Emerson laundry cart to escort each new arrival to his or her room. Purple and gold balloons were prominent on Sunset Boulevard.
Kevin Bright ’76, senior executive director and founding director, personally greeted students and their families as they arrived. He captured the moment by taking photos of each arriving student and his or her family, many of them beaming at the prospect of being among the first to experience the state-of-the-art facility. His high-tech camera printed instant photos and captured digital images that will be posted to Facebook.
Also on hand to greet students and their families and ensure all went well were LA Program Director Jim Lane, West Coast Development Director Patrick Smith, Student and Alumni Engagement Director Amy Grill, Emerson Chief of Police Bob Smith, and Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services Jay Phillips. Parents and students were treated to tours of the new building.
After a flight from Hartford, Connecticut, Kevin Roland ’14 arrived with a backpack and three hefty suitcases. Still, his enthusiasm was obvious: “I’m excited about exploring Los Angeles and Hollywood. I can’t wait to see everything!” The Acting major will intern with Stein Entertainment Group, assisting with talent and working on script coverage, among other tasks.
Cheyenne Cantor ’14, a Marketing Communication major, grew up in nearby Malibu. Surveying her room for the first time, Cantor said she was excited to start the program because she grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, “so I’ve never experienced living in the city.” Her mother, Jackie Robbins, is equally thrilled to have her daughter close to home. Cantor will intern at AEG, a major sports and entertainment presenter.
New arrivals quickly flocked to one of the LA facility’s exciting new features: the Emerson Kitchen, a restaurant on the ground floor. The menu is more than 40 percent vegetarian and the made-to-order options are extensive, using the latest kitchen technology. The facility features indoor and outdoor tables, and a smartphone app so patrons can place orders in advance. WERS-FM radio is piped in.
An invitation–only gala event will be held Saturday, March 8, to mark the official opening of Emerson Los Angeles. Open house events for alumni and parents are being planned for the week of March 10.
“The Future Has Your Name On It!” is the College’s first multi-year effort to secure $20 million or more in private support from individual donors, foundations, and corporations, which will fuel Emerson Los Angeles. There has been to date a robust response from alumni, parents, and friends to the campaign—the largest in Emerson’s history—with many opportunities for funding and naming key spaces within the building still available.
Built by the award-winning Los Angeles-based architect Thom Mayne and his Morphosis team, the 10-story structure is packed with amenities and state-of-the-art equipment. Among them are the Di Bona Family Distance Learning Center, the Herzog Family Classroom, Al Jaffe Enrollment Services Office, the Bright Family Screening Room West, wired classrooms, an open-air screening and live-performance space, meeting spaces, dressing rooms, computer labs, mixing suites, a fitness center, an equipment distribution center, an outdoor terrace with gas barbecue grills and a fire pit, and much, much more. The building has been built to LEED Gold standards.
More than 4,300 students have participated in the LA program since its inception. Emerson Los Angeles will significantly expand the College’s current program of academic offerings and professional internships at television and film studios, music companies, media outlets, marketing agencies, and related enterprises.