The California EPA headquarters plaza symbolizes the state's
geology and legislation.
By Mark Hinshaw
Image Courtesy Mia Lehrer + Associates
One of the many jokes about Arnold Schwarzenegger being elected as governor
of California is that when the Terminator finally sees what it's like to live in Sacramento, he will immediately demand a recall.
As many such jokes do, it holds some truth. Like many state capitals, Sacramento has been a rather lackluster city. Big government buildings
huddled around an otherwise lovely greensward anchored by a traditional, domed legislative buildingthe scene of many frenzied political
skirmishes. But the town itself was a yawner.
However, in recent years the place has begun to crackle. It has
a vibrant nightlife with upscale restaurants, sidewalk cafés lining
the downtown mall, and a lively arts and culture scene. A district
north of downtown is sufficiently filled with coffeehouses and art
galleries that it might actually deserve to be called hip.
Downtown is even now seeing some buildings designed with an architectural
distinction befitting a capital city. One such building is the new
headquarters for the state's Environmental Protection Agencya
powerful administrative branch that carries out sweeping legislative
mandates. No mean-spirited government compound, this 25-story structure
is as sophisticated and elegant as any corporate tower. Designed
by architects AC Martin Partners, it displays a dramatic profile
on the skyline without any geometric gimmicks and exhibits a dignified,
friendly urbanity on the street level where it counts. The facade
is a complex arrangement of green-tinted glass, creamy stone, and
finely crafted precast concrete.
And the best part is a gracious forecourt that both sets off the
building and demonstrates the societal role of its occupant.
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