Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Headquaters
Penn Design Advanced Studio Fall 2016
Critic: Jason Payne
Co Critic: Michael Zimmerman
I responded to Jason Payne’s proposal in a few key ways. The first would be this idea that came from the substations, of something that could be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, a kind of hiding in plain sight. This sort of observation of the substations, to me, is a starting point, at least in this case, of how aesthetics can propel an object to withdraw into itself. Or perhaps, at least withdrawing itself from consciousness. This in a sense became the aesthetic agenda for the project. The act of withdrawal creates uncertainty and in turn, to be conscious of this uncertainty is to be ambivalent. As Jason described in the syllabus, “To be ambivalent is to choose to be unclear, undecided, equivocal. Like a poker face, such impenetrability does not occur naturally, and is instead the blankness of cunning artifice and cold calculation. ” This pretty well describes the attitude I took in the design of the exterior of the headquarters, where I embraced blankness and ambivalence in the hopes of withdrawal. This brings me to color, I choose beige not just as a color butt an attitude, this comes from a mid-term conversation with Michael Loverich where he suggested that we should deal with the concept of being beige, and how that related to the substations. Synonyms of Beige from Theoseorous.com are as follows, nondescript, characterless, faceless, featureless, in distinctive, neutral, noncommittal, vanilla. It is with both the color and the attitude of beige that the headquarters is able to withdraw into its context, and therefore withdrawal from public consciousness. It is through the articulation of the subtle creases that creates an ambiguity of form that aides in such a withdrawal.
The Interior of the headquarters is quite different story from the exterior, where the realities of an office building come into focus, with an open floor plan that dissipates away from the exterior skin, to create exaggerated and interesting interstitial spaces. Towards the center there is a water tower, that is response to the existing water feature. Instead of a display of water, it is a concealing of water, or a containment of water, a storage of a resource, rather than a display of abundance.