Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

  • Caption
    View of Exterior - Street Number as Design Statement
Related people
Thom Mayne (was created by)
Morphosis (was created by)
2002-2004 (creation)
North and Central America->United States->California (CA)->Los Angeles (county)->Los Angeles
The new Caltrans District 7 Headquarters covers an entire city block downtown Los Angeles, directly opposite City Hall. It serves the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Built on a $165,000,000 budget it opened in September 24th 2004. Its futuristic and environmentally-friendly design has won its designer Thom Mayne the 2005 Pritzker Prize. Enrobed in a constantly changing mechanical skin that is alternately open or closed depending on the conditions of outside temperature and sunlight, the building's fundamental property is that of transformation. At dusk the building is transparent, textured and windowed, while at mid-day it is buttoned up against the sun, appearing to be devoid of windows entirely. The building's south facade is entirely surfaced with photovoltaic cells that will generate approximately 5% of the building's energy while shielding the facade from direct sunlight during peak summer hours. The facade along Main Street features an innovative double skin of glass behind perforated aluminum panels. The panels open and close mechanically timed with the movement of the sun and weather conditions. Marking the entrance of the building at 100 South Main Street is a super-graphic, forward-canted sign towering 40 feet over the sidewalk.
Designed by architects Morphosis for the state transportation agency known as Caltrans, the Caltrans Building brings much-needed public space back to downtown Los Angeles. Besides re-engaging the street, the architects combined versatility and performance in the perforated metal skin hung just outside the curtain wall.
"The building's outermost skin of perforated aluminum changes appearance with available light. The panels' shading efficiency was a top priority, but the architects also succeded in animating what might have been monolithic east and west elevations (each measuring 200-by-400 feet) by introducing horizontal slots with no panels; a sprinkling of fixed, projecting panels that cast shadows; and panels with one of three different perforation sizes." - Caltrans Headquarters. (2005, January). Architectural Record, 120-129.

Keywords: United States, California, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, commercial structures, office, transportation.
Submitted by Michael Cadwell for ARCH 626: Introduction to Building Construction.
Deconstructivist (AAT)
Twenty-first century (LCSH)
photovoltaic cells