Capitol Towers

1959-65 • Sacramento, CA

Located in downtown Sacramento, this residential complex was one of the first privately sponsored urban redevelopment projects in California. The complex features two mid-rise towers and several low-rise garden apartment buildings situated around a pedestrian-oriented central plaza that contains a swimming pool, a fountain, and a grove of deciduous trees to provide shade during the summer months.

Prominently featured in the central plaza is a sculpture wall by artist Jacques Overhoff. By this time, collaboration with regional artists had become of hallmark of Halprin’s design aesthetic, and he continued to incorporate sculpture into his projects throughout his career.

Capitol Towers Apartments receives an “F” rating regarding its condition due to an extremely high level of threat. A proposal entitled Sacramento Commons Project was approved by the City of Sacramento in 2015 that would demolish the Capitol Towers complex for a new high-density development. Prior to city-level approval, the proposal was opposed by local advocacy groups including Preservation Sacramento and Sacramento Modern. Their efforts resulted in an Environment Impact Report that incorporated measures that attempt to mitigate the negative impact of the proposed development. However, the Commons Project as proposed is still moving forward.

Capitol Towers central plaza in 1961 (Courtesy Sacramento Modern)

The upside of this process is that Capitol Towers Apartments was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. Its listing was motivated in large part by the efforts of local groups to save the complex. The nomination form recognized the Modernist design of the complex under both the categories of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, significantly raising the visibility of Halprin’s impact on downtown Sacramento. While construction was scheduled to begin in October of 2016, work has not yet broken ground.



Design Team

Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons (architects)
Demars & Reay (site planning)
Edward Larrabee Barnes (architect)


Condition Scale Condition: F
High risk

Info Scale Visibility: A
Highly regarded 


Info ScaleNational Register of Historic Places

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  • 1500 7th St
    Sacramento, CA 95814

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Featured Photographer

Rudy Calpo
Calpo is an architect by trade and artist by nature. Accomplished in watercolors and freehand drawing, he brings a sense of color, light, angle, and composition to his photographs. As Senior Principal of CHD Architects in Sacramento, Calpo has been practicing architecture in the area since 1975, and practicing his passion for photography since even earlier. His photography has taken him around the world.