LA Police Department's 'Architectural Armor'

L.A.'s architecture critic tears into the "conflicted" design of the Los Angeles Police Department's new headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles.

February 19, 2006, 1:00 PM PST

By Chris Steins @urbaninsight


"There are some pieces of architecture that seem, in a fundamental sense, sure of themselves and their symbolic place in the city. And then there's the design for the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters downtown, by Paul Danna and Jose Palacios of the firm DMJM. When the 11-story, 500,000-square-foot building is completed 3 1/2 years from now, across 1st Street from City Hall, it seems guaranteed to rank as one of the most conflicted landmarks in all of Los Angeles.

...[T]he planned building ... is intimidatingly large, with a concern for self-protection bordering on the obsessive. It incorporates a number of security requirements common to government projects after 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, including a 75-foot setback from the street to its base on every side. And although the main entrance will be framed by large expanses of glass, the building features a window arrangement on its longest façade, along Spring Street, whose irregular pattern is meant to thwart snipers hiding inside the offices of this very newspaper.

...Like the proposed Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, if at a more modest scale, the LAPD design finds itself torn between a growing national interest in architectural armor and a desire to symbolize the openness of public institutions in a democratic society: It tries to open up even as it hunkers down."

Saturday, February 18, 2006 in The Los Angeles Times

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