Saturday, February 09, 2008

Temples of Infrastructure...

First of all The Department of Water and Power can't be accused of hiding anything in its name. Water and Power. The very stuff of life. The Department of Water and Power houses our secular, urban god. Around Los Angeles the DWP has some magnificent (and strangely un-photographed) distribution stations representing all the greatest hits of 20th Century architecture. What's inside these external shell-shrines is not for public consumption. The magic behind the utility. There's a peculiar one on the curvy NW corner of Yucca and Argyle. Very Planet of the Apes. Once, their front gate was wide open so I walked in through the iron fencing beyond the foreboding low black walls. Inside was the most amazing cacophony of giant circuit breakers, transformers, distributors, switchboards, and oversized whirling gizmos piled up around a cramped cement lot. A scene straight out of a silent Frankenstein movie. Not a human in sight. Just a low penetrating buzz that made me sleepy and a distinctly megawatty sensation in the air.

(DWP Headquarters in Downtown LA, 1964 Albert C. Martin + Associates)


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