California-Based Architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Wins Unprecedented Design-Build Competition for New Caltrans Building in Los Angeles
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California-Based Architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Wins Unprecedented Design-Build Competition for New Caltrans Building in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 8, 2001--In what is acclaimed as a huge step forward for a government agency, the State of California announced the selection of internationally renowned architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis, a Santa Monica-based company, to design and build a new California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

The selection marks the culmination of a new competition process advocated and implemented by Governor Gray Davis, Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, and State Architect Stephan Castellanos and envisioned as a model for future government building projects. Through this competition process -- a first for the State -- the government sought to achieve world-class design excellence, sustainability, integration of art and architecture, and a building that contributes to the revitalization of the Civic Center. The winning design merges functionality with an ennobling quality that will provide a new symbol for the community and downtown Los Angeles and join an increasing number of important new buildings in the Civic Center, including Walt Disney Concert Hall and Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral.

A recipient of a 2001 Chrysler Design Award, Mayne has defined key characteristics of Los Angeles's progressive architecture. Among Morphosis's recent works are the Hypo Alpe-Adria Center in Klagenfurt, Austria; Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, Calif.; and the soon-to-be-constructed San Francisco Federal Office Building.

Morphosis was selected from a group of three finalists by a panel co-chaired by Secretary Contreras-Sweet and Richard Koshalek, president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and former director of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). During a six-month process, the panel of jurors worked with a group of readers in an innovative integrated procedure to narrow the original field of 11 design-build teams to three finalists in July. The other two finalists were Benedetta Tagliabue of Miralles Tagliabue of Barcelona, Spain, with the team Koll Construction/Miralles Tagliabue/Langdon Wilson and Rem Koolhaas of OMA of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with the team Morley Construction/OMA/Thomas Properties Group.

"The State was fortunate to have such an incredible wealth of talent from which to select," said Secretary Contreras-Sweet. "All three finalists demonstrated a strong pursuit of innovation in their work and showed that they are capable of designing a building that will be functionally appropriate, increase productivity, and inspire creative thinking as well as revitalize the urban landscape of Los Angeles -- thereby benefiting not only Caltrans but the city of Los Angeles and society at large."

"The Caltrans building will be an extraordinary contribution to the urban fabric and life of the community in downtown Los Angeles," said panel co-chair Koshalek. "The State should be commended for seeking the highest standards of design. The three teams developed highly original conceptual solutions in concert with Caltrans and the government. All three schemes responded in a meaningful way with an eye as to how buildings in the future will provide a creative and comprehensive solution, both urbanistically and architecturally."

State Architect Castellanos said, "This is an incredible achievement for a public process in California. We have created a process that will deliver a high-performing building that meets our requirements for sustainability and energy efficiency, without reducing our ambitious goals for design excellence, quality, and value."

"The consideration of how employees relate to their working environment was very important," said Xavier Chavez, chief of Bridge Architecture and Aesthetics for Caltrans. "We asked the three design teams to be sensitive to the needs of the work force who will occupy the building for a large part of their lives, and they responded with more than was requested as part of the program requirements."

Richard Weinstein, a member of the jury and UCLA architecture professor, said, "It's a pleasure to be associated with a competition in which you would be happy if any of the finalists were able to realize their building -- and it's almost unprecedented for a project sponsored by a governmental agency."

The panel of jurors included State Architect Castellanos; Chavez, chief of Caltrans' Bridge, Architecture, and Esthetics Divisions; Weinstein, dean of the UCLA School of Architecture; USC School of Architecture Dean Robert Timme; UCLA Architecture Department Chair Sylvia Lavin; Deputy Secretary Jorge Jackson of the State Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; Martha Welborne, managing director of the California Community Foundation; Ming Fung of Hodgetts & Fung; Mike Courtney, deputy director of the Real Estate Services Division for the State Department of General Services; and Peg Hudson, chief of the Project Management Branch at the Department of General Services.

The Caltrans project will contribute significantly to the local economy with long-term employment opportunities and construction jobs that involve local contractors and small businesses, according to Secretary Contreras-Sweet. During the construction process, the State will seek a small business participation goal of 25%.

Aileen Adams, secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, which oversees the Department of General Services, said, "The State has broken historic new ground for excellence in art and architecture. This innovative process, which integrated art into the project from the very beginning and emphasized sustainable design, sets the example for all future major state building projects." The Department of General Services will oversee the building of this project, with construction scheduled to start in early 2002.

The new 700,000 square foot building, budgeted at $171 million, will be built across from the Los Angeles City Hall. The site of the new Caltrans building is consistent with the Civic Center "Diamond Plan" that concentrates government offices in the Civic Center area. The new Caltrans building will replace its current headquarters at 120 South Spring Street. Built in 1949, the present building is regarded as functionally obsolete, seismically insufficient, and prohibitively expensive to update.

     California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
     Mark DeSio, 916/323-5389