Designs Within Reach 2019

(page 5 of 6)

Rendering by AC Martin

California Natural Resources Tower

Estimated Completion: August 2021

Too often, office buildings eschew form in favor of function. But in the case of California Natural Resources Agency—whose mission is “to restore, protect and manage” environmental assets like rivers and forests—the architecture team behind the group’s new downtown headquarters is attempting to achieve both with the tower that will soon take over the corner of 8th and O streets.

The $520 million structure, explains lead designer Gail Bouvrie of L.A.-based AC Martin, will reflect “California’s greatest resources through its use of architectural forms and materials” and be appropriately eco-friendly, with the project striving for net-zero energy status through solutions like thermal insulation and water recycling.

To the untrained eye, the new HQ—all jaunty angles and shiny glass—may bear a strong resemblance to an Arctic glacier, but it features state-specific references from top to bottom. For example, the tower itself is an abstract representation of a granite mountain in the Sierra, and the subtle pattern on the exterior glass—designed to lower cooling costs inside—is meant to evoke the bark of a mighty sequoia tree.

Down at street level, a new pedestrian plaza takes its design cues from other features of the state’s eclectic topography with walls made of locally sourced “rammed earth”—a combination of materials like gravel, silt and clay that are compressed in a way that visually, says Bouvrie, “recalls the sedimentary landforms created by the Delta.”

The result, the designers hope, will combine both California’s physical and aspirational attributes to inspire, shall we say, a Golden State of mind.