Co.Design

A Nerve Center of Democracy Gets the Building It Deserves

Elections are won, lost, and (most importantly) administered in grotesque, depressing buildings. Lehrer Architects decided to change that.

Democracy: it's a beautiful thing. Except in practice, where it's often inefficient, error-prone, and logistically nightmarish for the people who actually do the dirty work of administering elections. Lehrer Architects decided to help make the process a little more humane by designing the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Elections Operations Center of Santa Fe Springs, CA, as a place that might actually be pleasant to work. It'd better be, because this facility sets up and maintains the equipment for every voting station in Los Angeles County.

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images courtesy of Lehrer Architects

So how do you turn a giant warehouse full of voting machines into a non-soul-destroying place to work? You fill the space with vibrant color. Lehrer festooned the enormous warehouse with mega-banner nature photography (created by local artist and UCLA professor Rebeca Mendez), and painted giant stripes of orange, green, and red all over the floor and walls. Instead of feeling like a morgue designed for a 200-foot-long corpse, the Operations Center crackles with visual energy.

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The architects also used cheap-but-effective plastic curtains to carve out an air-conditioned cafeteria within the warehouse space, shaving 25 percent off the project budget. It may not sound like much, until you see what the facility could have looked like without Lehrer's innovations:

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Yikes. Thank god for well-designed election infrastructure, and God bless America!

[Read more at ArchDaily.com]

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