Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

California's First Design Excellence Facility
The project signifies one of the most successful project deliveries in the State's history. With an aggressive budget, a very tight time schedule, and a host of external influences, your team held course and met every significant milestone and challenge presented.
Brian Day, Project Director, California Department of General Services
Los Angeles, California
California Department of General Services
Morphosis Architects, Inc.
Additional collaborations with Morphosis Architects, Inc.:
750,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 
LEED Silver

One of the State of California’s first design-build projects, Caltrans District 7 Headquarters provided a new home for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 division, as well as approximately 500 City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation employees. Working together, the project team used innovative techniques to construct a high-profile building that exemplifies design excellence, while saving the state time and money.

Located at First and Main Streets in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the 1.2 million-square-foot complex is comprised of a 13-story tower with 756,000 square feet of office space with four levels of subterranean parking for 1,142 cars. The $165 million building, the largest project built under the State’s Excellence in Public Building Program, features a number of components not usually associated with government spaces, including an operable exterior scrim wall, skip/stop elevator system, a four-story high exterior integrated neon art sculpture, and a building integrated photovoltaic system.

The project won numerous awards for every facet of the construction process, from design and sustainability to teamwork and execution of the design-build process. 


The complicated and unique exterior wall system at Caltrans District 7 Headquarters features adjustable perforated panels. Resembling a giant screen, these panels serve as a shading device for the building. Sensors automatically close off panels of the façade that are exposed to the hot California sun and open sections that are in the shade. The system significantly reduces the heat gain on the building. This façade also provides a visual draw — at dusk the building is transparent, with exposed windows everywhere, while at midday, the structure is buttoned up against the sun, appearing to be devoid of windows entirely.

The south facing façade features a photovoltaic array incorporated into the building envelope—serving the dual purpose of sunshade and capture of solar energy for electrical power. This installation is one of the largest integrated exterior wall/solar cell arrays in the western U.S.

AIA Los Angeles - Building Team of the Year
DBIA - National Design-Build Award, Public Sector Building $15 Million+
L.A. Business Council - Architectural Award, Best Future Design
L.A. Business Council - Architectural Award, Unbuilt Category
L.A. Downtown News - Most Environmentally Aware Design
Southern California Development - Forum Industry Award