[ Marla Aufmuth ]
Feast your eyes upon the new LAPD headquarters in downtown LA, nearing completion and due to open in October. The building, erected at a cost of $437 million (a price tag which includes not just the headquarters but also that parking garage/ Motor Transport Division), will soon have 2,300 police officers and staff working there. The 500,000 square foot, 10-story building was designed by AECOM (formerly DMJM) and includes a 400-seat auditorium for community meetings, a restaurant, and multiple public spaces including a memorial park to slain police officers on the roof of the restaurant.
We took a media tour of the building yesterday with Councilwoman Jan Perry and City Engineer Gary Moore, who showed us not only the public spaces, but also the future Compstat room, the roof helipad, Chief Bratton's future office (and he leaves that office on October 31st), and the fabled "cigar patio" that is not, despite rumors, Bratton's personal stogy stage, but is open to staff on the 10th floor. Each floor features an open floor plan, so cubicle dwellers will have access to natural light, while the offices and conference rooms line the inner perimeter of each floor.
The building is oriented towards City Hall, underscoring the relationship between these two halls of power. It's also trying to achieve a delicate balance between serving the needs of the residential community (such as open space, late night and weekend amenities, and public parks), and the need for a securitized zone. Has the building accomplished that? Yes and no. The western side of the building certainly looks inpenetrable, and the LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne claims it "features a window arrangement on its longest facade, along Spring Street, whose irregular pattern is meant to thwart snipers hiding inside the offices of this very newspaper." Yet the building achieves far more transparency than other municipal structures (such as Caltrans' HQ imposing facade across the street). Next up, we'll take a look at some of the public spaces - yet another compromise after initial plans to build a public park on that site were scrapped.