Caltrans District 7 Headquarters | The Plan
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Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

Morphosis

The architectural complex of the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters of the California transportation department has a 4-storey base onto which another block partly rests, giving a total building height of 13 floors. A large, multi-purpose urban square courses towards the dynamic architectural complex, which in turn comes out to meet the plaza. The jagged geometries of canopies, and mix of graphics, architecture and art are at one with a context synonymous with speed. The building’s material language, structural elements, and the way the components are varied and co-ordinated all give a contemporary reading in terms of transformation. The architecture is there to appear and denote, its single elements deliberately distorted or mutated - like the outer skin of the west façade that folds slightly into a canopy, or the public square that reaches into the building to become an internal loggia. Stage set and architecture here combine in the dynamic coloured light tubes. Designed together with artist Keith Sonnier, they mimic the ribbon of headlights on California’s freeways.  The number “100” on the west façade is not just a super-graphic; it is an emblem of the whole building in an environment reminiscent of Robert Venturi. With the juxtaposition of solid and empty, positive and negative shapes and volumes, the building dialogues with the plaza and internal open loggia. The effect is as intense as the famous Hollywood sign on the hill. The ground floor level houses cultural, recreational and exhibition areas, conference halls, cafeterias, and commercial space. The offices are located on the upper floors. The taller building has a double skin whose perforated aluminium outer layer acts as a shield. The 4-storey base alternates glazing and fibre cement sheets in tone with the perforated panels above.  Natural and artificial light is a fundamental feature throughout.
The façade overlooking the...

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