Los Angeles may be a city known more for its sprawl that its urban core, but downtown is home to a density of high-profile contemporary architecture by the likes of Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, and Morphosis. Across the street from the last’s Caltrans District 7 Headquarters is the Los Angeles Police Department’s new Administration Building, designed by a joint venture of AECOM and Roth Sheppard Architects. They answered questions about this award-winning building that adds some more striking design to downtown LA.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
The Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters building was a commission resulting from a competition.
Can you describe your design process for the building?
The new Los Angeles Police Department Police Administration Building in downtown Los Angeles was built to replace the nearly 60-year old Parker Center, the former headquarters of the LAPD. In designing the replacement for their aging and unsafe headquarters, the main goal of the LAPD was to make manifest their desire for increased transparency while at the same time maintain a secure and safe environment for the building’s users and visitors. Located at the threshold between the civic core and the historic district, the building site offered a unique opportunity to link between the center of government at City Hall, and the nearby growing residential population. At nearly 500,000 SF and 10 stories above grade, the new Police Administration Building responds to the department’s functional needs and also offers the surrounding community much needed public open space and freely accessible amenities throughout the site.
A goal for the project and design process was to strike a balance between the LAPD’s desire for openness and transparency while preserving operational security that the department required. The project had to be inviting enough to the surrounding community to generate use, thus generating close contact between the general public and department, but still maintain a sense of safety for the end users.
The second goal of design was to integrate a large police facility on a site situated between the city’s civic core to the north and a gentrifying historic core to the south in a way that would enhance daily community life. In addition, there was the question of how to physically address and connect to the surrounding civic and historic institutions that surround the site; ever present was the question of how to project the civic nature of a strong institution without overpowering the existing contextual precedents.
One of the most important aspects of our process was the incorporation of public input into the design and features of a facility with an end user that is traditionally resistant to outside review. Dozens of meetings with the neighboring community, public officials and civic boards became forums where community concerns were voiced – ultimately having a strong beneficial effect on the project.
View from 2nd Street, with open space
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?
Once the final site was selected and the building designed for that site, the end result was exactly as designed with no dramatic design changes. The client did change the sustainability goals for the project during the construction phase, which is ordinarily too late to address a change of this sort. The project was initially intended to meet LEED Certified status, and was designed with such a goal in mind. At twenty percent construction completion, the City of Los Angeles revised the project’s LEED goal from Certified to Silver. The building surpassed that goal to achieve recent certification at the Gold Level.
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The building is certified at the LEED Gold level. We have found that many of our clients are requiring sustainability goals beyond what they would normally have done in the past, or going beyond what is mandated by local jurisdictions where those codes exist. Even in cases of speculative office buildings, where construction cost is often the most significant design factor, we have found that developers are increasingly raising sustainability standards because they see value in this decision even with the budget impacts that may result.
View from 1st Street
Are there any new/upcoming projects in your office that this building’s design and construction has influenced?
We are presently working on additional public safety projects, also won through competitions which are informed by the success of the LAPD project.
E-Mail Interview conducted by John Hill