CII Breaks Ground on a Commitment to Watts

January 31, 2020
Ryan Imondi

On January 30, Children’s Institute broke ground on a new Watts Campus designed pro bono by world-renowned architect  Frank Gehry. The new building will serve as a hub for South Los Angeles families and add an iconic landmark to the historic neighborhood. To celebrate the event, CII held a ceremony attended by 300 guests including Frank Gehry, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Councilmember Joe Buscaino.

The new building will house critical therapeutic programs, parenting workshops and after-school activities that will serve children and families affected by poverty and intergenerational trauma. The space will also feature a new headquarters for the Watts Gang Task Force and the LAPD Community Safety Partnership.

Frank Gehry poses with CII Trustees Emada Tingirides and Bridget Gless Keller
From left: Emada Tingirides, LAPD & Children’s Institute Trustee; Frank Gehry, Capital Architect; Bridget Gless Keller, Children’s Institute Trustee & Building Committee Chair.

“It is our intent that the building will be comforting and welcoming. I hope this building will serve and inspire children and families for generations to come,” said Gehry.

CII President & CEO Martine Singer said getting to the groundbreaking was a multi-year process, but everyone is thrilled with the outcome and excited for the building phase to commence.

“The new campus is a permanent commitment to the community of Watts, an architectural landmark and a critical resource for children and families,” Singer said. “The groundbreaking is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and we couldn’t be more excited to get started.”

LAPD Captain and CII Trustee Emada Tingirides is the commanding officer for the Southeast Division that includes Watts. Having been involved in the project from its earliest days, Capt. Tingirides said she is excited for the doors to open and add to the positive trajectory of South LA over the last decade.

“I think about driving down 103rd and looking up Success Avenue and seeing this beautiful building that represents hope, trust and passion,” she said. “I can’t wait to see the doors open.”

When CII was developing the plans for a new Watts Campus, many long-time supporters jumped onto the project to help raise funding. Bridget Gless Keller, CII Trustee and Building Committee Chair, has supported the project from its inception while rallying friends and family to also pitch in.

“Ultimately today is not about logistics,” Gless Keller said. “It’s about how we built bridges in the community and delivered on a promise to Watts.”

The new campus, located on the corner of E. 102nd Street and Success Avenue, will cost $20 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

A family poses for a photo at Frank Gehry

Please continue to follow along as we provide updates on the project, and click here if you would like to join us in building the new campus.