Construction of DWP's General Office Building (GOB)

 
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Office Building (Referred to as the GOB or JFOB).*  

 

Los Angeles Histoic-Cultural Monument No. 1022

On September 21, 2011, the DWP Building was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 1022. One of Los Angeles' most notable examples of Corporate International architecture, the DWP Building (John Ferraro Office Building) opened in 1965 and has been an L.A. icon ever since.

 

 

Pre-Construction

 
(Early 1950s)^* - View looking slightly northwest from City Hall. Bunker Hill in the distance is still covered with multiple dwellings. Parking lots are seen throughout the photo. The County Courthouse on the left is under construction.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)** - View from City Hall looking toward Bunker Hill prior to construction of the GOB and Music Center. Both the County Courthouse and the Hall of Adminstration buildings are now up.  

 

Historical Notes

The old State Building can be seen on the left, and the old Hall of Records (diagonally set building) is on the lower right foreground. In the center of the photo are the County Courthouse, County Hall of Administration. In the distance is the location of the future Department of Water and Power building, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Music Center.

 

 

 
(1957)* - Aerial view of Los Angeles from an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet. View is looking northwest with the Civic Center at center, and City Hall's tower visible in the middle.   

 

Historical Notes

The empty land to the left of center is future location of both the DWP General Office Building and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

 

 

 
(1957)* - Aerial view of Los Angeles Civic Center; view is looking east. The Hollywood Freeway (101) is visible on the left, City Hall is in the middle, the Los Angeles River can be seen running along the top, and the Harbor Freeway (110) runs along the bottom. The street running from center-bottom to top of photo is Temple.  

 

Historical Notes

The construction site at center of the above photo is located between Hill, Temple, Grand and 1st street and will be the L.A. County Superior Court building. Adjacent to that and just below is the future site of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson Theatre.

Across the street (Hope Street), in the lower center of the photo, can be seen the Bunker Hill future site of the DWP's General Office Building. Apartment buildings and houses are still covering the hill.

 

 

 
(1958)*# - Aerial view of Downtown Los Angeles looking south from the intersection of Sunset and Figueroa. In the left-center of photo can be seen a closer view of Hope Street St. between 1st and Temple.  The DWP’s GOB and Music Center have yet to be constructed.  

 

 

 

Construction Begins

 
(ca. 1960)* - Looking east from a neighborhood west of the Harbor Freeway (foreground) showing the construction of the 17-story General Office Building of the Department of Water and Power, located at 111 N. Hope Street, and the Music Center. First Street is seen on the right side, and the Civic Center is partially visible in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The 17-story Department of Water & Power Office Building was constructed on Bunker Hill with the purpose of consolidating 11 building offices scattered across Downtown LA and house its 3,200 employees.

 

 

 

 

(ca. 1960)* - Construction of the DWP General Office Building with City Hall in the background. To the right of the GOB can be seen the Music Center which was being consructed at the same time.

 

 

Historical Notes

The A.C. Martin and Associates designed building offered some unique high-technology features in that It was designed to utilize the pool surrounding the structure as part of the air conditioning system and to heat the building without the use of a boiler.

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)* - Looking east from a neighborhood west of the Harbor Freeway showing the construction of the 17-story General Office Building.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1963)* - Photo taken from the City Hall Tower; view is looking northwest.  

 

Historical Notes

The old State Building can be seen on the left, and the old Hall of Records (diagonally set building) is on the lower right foreground with a large, practically empty parking lot to the right of the building. In the center of the photo are the County Courthouse, County Administration, and construction of the County mall (excavated area). In the distance is the Department of Water and Power building, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Music Center are on the left of DWP (between DWP and County Courthouse).

 

 

 
(ca. 1963)* - Aerial view looking east toward City Hall. Construction of the DWP General Office Building is almost completed.  

 

Historical Notes

The first occupants moved into the GOB on May 14, 1965. One month later the building was formally dedicated in a ceremony attended by civic officials and business leaders. The eight fountains outside the building were turned on by Elizabeth Scattergood and Rose Mulholland, granddaughters of the two men who were DWP's first chief engineers.^

 

 

 
(1964)** - An aerial view of the Los Angeles Civic Center, looking east with the Department of Water and Power building and unfinished Music Center in the foreground  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1965)* - Aerial view looking east toward the Water and Power building (mid-photo), the Music Center directly behind it (white roof), L.A. County Courthouse (rectangular building), and City Hall at the upper middle portion of the photo. First Street is to the right of the Music Center, Temple Street is to the left, with the 101 Hollywood Freeway parallel to it, and the 110 Harbor Freeway along the bottom of the photo. It appears that the Ahmanson Theatre is still under construction. The theatre opened on April 12, 1967.  

 

 

View Prior to Construction

 
(ca. 1960)** - View looking n/w from City Hall toward Bunker Hill prior to construction of the GOB and Music Center.  

 

View Post-Construction

 
(ca. 1970)^^ - View of from City Hall looking northwest after construction of the Music Center.  

 

 

 

 
(1965)^* - Interior view of the GOB showing the main spiral staircase.  

 

 

 

 
(1965)^^ - Evening view of the front of the DWP Office Building with lights and fountains on.  

 

 

 

 
(1965)* - Civic center buildings at night; left to right, the Department of Water and Power GOB, Music Center and City Hall, seen from across the Harbor Freeway.  

 

 

 

 
(1966)* - Night view of a well lit Department of Water and Power building, including fountains, as seen from the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion across the street.  

 

 

 

 
(1967)* - View of Department of Water and Power building on the left and Dorothy Chandler Music Center on the right from a parking lot across First Street.  

 

Historical Note

The parking lot shown above is the current site of the Walt Disney Concert Hall (built between 1999 and 2003).

 

 

 
(n.d.) - An aerial shot of the Music Center and the Department of Water and Power Building.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1967)* - The General Office Building as seen from the Music Center.  

 

 

 

 
(1969)* - Air view of the General Office Building and area. General Office Building. The office building is a 17-story multipurpose facility containing a 2,300 car subterranean parking structure. The building was constructed with a concrete and steel frame, which supports precast concrete exterior walls.
 

 

Notes

After almost five decades since its construction, the building is still recognized as one of Los Angeles' most iconic structures.

 

 

 
(1979)* - Boarded-up bungalow court apartments on Fremont near Temple Avenues. The Department of Water and Power general office building is behind.  

 

 

 

 
(1986)* - Looking south from the water courtyard of the General Office Building of the Department of Water and Power.  

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^^ - The John Ferraro Office Building. In November 2000, in honor of longtime council member John Ferraro, the General Office Building (GOB) was renamed the John Ferraro Office Building (JFOB).  

 

Historical Notes

John Ferraro (1924–2001) was the longest-serving Los Angeles City Council member in the history of the city—thirty-five years, from 1966 until his death in 2001—and the president of the council for fourteen of them. He had been an all-American football player at the University of Southern California.

On September 21, 2011, the John Ferraro Building was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 1022.

 

 

Early DWP Office Buildings

 
(n.d.)* - Exterior view of an eight story annex of Department of Water and Power, 222 South Hill Street. This is one of the 11 buildings the new General Office Building replaced in 1965.  

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - Two of the six downtown office buildings employed by the Department of Water and Power were the Wright and Callender Building, located at the intersection of Fourth and Hill.  

 

 

 

 
View of the Department of Water and Power's General Office Building (Photo date unknown).* The prominent sign on the face of the building reads: WATER - POWER - LIGHT.  

 

 

 

(Early 1920s)* - 207 South Broadway - Administrative headquarters had remained at the Broadway Building for many years since it was purchased, however, the Department quickly outgrew the office space it needed. Within only four years after purchasing the Broadway Building, the Department found itself adding facilities and erecting more office quarters.

The first addition was the 13 story building at 316 W. Second Street, constructed by the Department in 1925. The next year, 1926, the eight story Hill Street building was built at 222 S. Hill Street. These two buildings were joined by stairs and hallways with the Broadway facility, making one large, central headquarters installation with entrances on Broadway, Second Street and Hill Street. From these three integrated structures, the Department’s operations had expanded to embrace six downtown office buildings.*^

 

 

 

 
(Early 1920s)* - 207 South Broadway - When the Merchants Trust Building at 207 S. Broadway was purchased in 1921, it appeared the Department had, at last, a home that would adequately accommodate it for many, many years. However, growth continued at such a pace it necessitated new additions and expansions in Department facilities much earlier than anyone ever expected. *^  

 

 

 

 
(Early 1920s)* - 207 South Broadway  

 

 

First Home of the LA's Water Department

 
(1920s)* - Original Water Department Building. The building on the northwest corner of Marchessault and North Alameda streets was the first headquarters of the municipal Water Department.  

 

LADWP Historic Archive

Original Water Department Building - For the twenty-eight stories and two basements of our City Hall, thirty floors in all, are outnumbered by the twenty-six stories and five basements, thirty-on floors in all, of the downtown offices of the Department of Water and Power. Yet, these office buildings of the Department, roomy and extensive though they be, come nowhere near to occupying an entire city block. In the square in which they stand, there are nineteen structures all together. Only three of these—less than a sixth—are ours. But there was a time in the history of the Department when its quarters did occupy a whole city block. And, strangely enough, this was in its formative days.

The intersection of North Los Angeles and Marchessault streets is not so very far distant from our Broadway Building. A ten or fifteen minute stroll will bring one to a “flatiron” log, bounded by these two thoroughfares and North Alameda Street. The sole occupant of this entire city block was, and still is, a sturdy, square, two-story brick structure. Built originally for a furniture factory, it was later remodeled to serve as a headquarters of our predecessor, the Los Angeles City Water Company. Ownership and occupancy next passed to the newly fledged City Water Department, in whose possession and that of its successors in interest, it still continues, no longer as offices, but only as a warehouse for a firm of Chinese importers and the domicile of the chop suey and noodles emporium. *^

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - View looking west toward the northwest corner of Marchessault and Alameda streets where the original Los Angeles Water Department Building stands.  

 

 

First Home of the Los Angeles Water Department

Click HERE to see more in Water Department's Original Office Building.

 

 

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References and Credits

* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^ blogdowntown 6/24/10 Article - 45 Years Ago: New Water and Power Headquarters Dedicated

*^LADWP Historic Archive

**USC Digital Archive

^*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

^^tumblr.com: John Ferraro Office Building; DWP Office Building

*#Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com: Downtown Aerial 1958

^*Page 232: Interior view, Department of Water and Power headquarters, A.C. Martin & Associates, Los Angeles, 1965. © J Paul Getty Trust.

 

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