Photos: Inside The Former Metropolitan Water District Building, Now Under Threat Of Demolition
Designed by renowned architect William Pereira in 1961, the original Metropolitan Water District headquarters is now "in mortal peril," as Esotouric historian Kim Cooper put it. Completed in 1963, an additional tower was finished in 1973.
The incredibly prolific Pereira, a pioneer of mid-century modernism, designed a multitude of important Los Angeles buildings, including the LACMA campus, CBS Television City, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Disneyland Hotel. He also designed a 1973 addition to the Los Angeles Times headquarters, which is also now in danger of demolition.
The MWD moved out of the Pereira campus and into a building next to Union Station in 1993, and the Metropolitan Water District campus was acquired by the Holy Hill Community Church soon after. Despite being physically connected, the two buildings (the low-rise and the tower), were split into two parcels, and later sold separately by the church. The tower has been lovingly preserved by the team at Linear City, who transformed it into the luxury apartment tower now known as The Elysian.
The original low-rise building was recently purchased from the bankrupt church owners by an investment group called Palisades Capital Partners, and in June, a notice of intent to file a demolition went up on the chainlink fence outside the building. Now, as Cooper explained in a recent podcast episode, "the clock is ticking for this incredibly important Pereira compound."
As Curbed LA reported in July, the building received a temporary reprieve from demolition when the Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously to consider it for landmark status, and the commission will meet again to vote on the matter in September, according to Richard Schave, also of Esotouric.
On Thursday, the Cultural Heritage Commission led a public walk-through of the building, along with Schave and Cooper, who have been advocating for its preservation. Tragically, the church stripped much of the interior of the historic building (as seen in the pictures), but the bones and structure remain. Linear City partner Yuval Bar-Zemer, who filed the petition for landmark status for the 1963 low-rise building (he only owns the tower, not the adjoining building in threat of demolition), explained in detail how the tower had been in similar condition when they purchased it, and how they had managed to restore the interior, according to Schave.
On September 15, the Cultural Heritage Commission will come together again, and vote on whether or not to grant landmark status to this Los Angeles gem. They'll address a number of criteria, including the architect's legacy, the architectural integrity of the structure, and its historical significance.