Covering an entire city block in downtown Los Angeles and considered a modern architectural marvel, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 Headquarters was in fact the subject of a History Channel special titled "Modern Marvels: Building a Skyscraper". Completed in September 2004 at a cost of $165 million, its futuristic and environmental design won designer Thom Mayne (and his Santa Monica-based firm Morphosis) the 2005 Pritzker Prize, widely considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.
This 13-story structure's statistics are staggering: it has 716,200 square feet of functional office space, underground parking for 1142 vehicles, and no less than 52 restrooms for the 1850 Caltrans workers and 500 City of LA Department of Transportation (DOT) staff who earn a living within its massive walls. Unfortunately for the general public, those 2350 government employees are the only ones with full admittance, but the indoor and outdoor lobbies, including the latter's Begin's Café, are accessible to the public.
Caltrans realized this limitation, and now offers an illustrated "Quick Tour" on its website to guide visitors to permitted areas inside. However, the exterior of the building has plenty to gawk at. A forward-canted, four-story tall number "100" proudly denotes the address, and reaching that same height, an array of blue and red neon and argon tubing titled "Motordom" by artist Keith Sonnier evokes taillights on a busy nighttime highway. Less conspicuous is the "double skin" of glass and aluminum panels that open or close in response to changing light and temperature levels. The south face of the building contains photovoltaic cells that generate 5% of the building's energy requirements. Back inside, beyond the elevators, you can look up at the glass-floored 3rd level conference room and ponder on business meetings held in this transparent think tank.
- Location: 100 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA
- Phone: 213-897-3656
- Website: www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/aboutus