Established in 1902, the Department of Water and Power’s seventeen-story, International Style headquarters was designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates in 1959. The steeply sloping site on the western edge of the Los Angeles Civic Center comprises an entire city block; its sixteen-acre campus was designed by Martin in collaboration with landscape architects Cornell, Bridgers and Troller.
The rectangular tower, situated on an elevated plinth above a three-level parking garage, is surrounded by a plaza set with square granite pavers and a shallow rectilinear reflecting pool. The aggregate-clad pool is the most prominent feature of the campus and encircles the building like a moat. It is spanned on its eastern side by a wide bridge that connects to a linear greensward and the sidewalk along Hope Street. Divided evenly between the north and south sides of the building, eight fountains with golden lights and choreographed jets are positioned within the pool. Integrated with the building’s innovative air-conditioning system, the pool was designed to contain 1,250,000 gallons of water while the pump circulates 20,000 gallons per minute. Colpo d’ala, a sculpture by Arnalda Pomodoro, was installed in the pool’s southern end in 1988. The periphery of the site is lined with mature deciduous trees, native plants, and a cluster of boulders from the Alabama Hills north of Los Angeles are located at the northeastern corner of the property. Ten granite, raised planting beds flank the bridge and line the entrance along Hope Street, where symmetrical pairs of L-shaped staircases lead down to the parking level.