Halfway in between Hoover Dam and Los Angeles is Diamond Valley and what is now the largest man-made water storage lake in North America. Built in between two mountain ranges with huge dams on either side is the Diamond Valley lake, which holds a 6 month water supply for Los Angeles. To recognize this monumental accomplishment, a museum was built to celebrate the importance of water in the desert. The Water + Life Museum and Campus holds two museums dedicated to both water and archeology of the area. Designed by a parenership between Lehrer Architects, Gangi Design and Build of Los Angeles, the project is Certified LEED Platinum. The impressive museum boasts a huge photovoltaic system, energy efficient desert architecture and a deep commitment to education.
Located, right below the 2.5 mile long East Dam, the project seeks to educate visitors on the lake, geography, geology, history and natural resources of the area. Split into two distinct natural science museums, there is The Center for Water Education and The Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology. The water museum aims to tell the story of water, its conservation, and stewardship in the area as well as promote study and preservation of the precious resource. The life museum exhibits the Pleistocene-era mammoth and other animal remains found while excavating 150’ into bedrock during the creation of Diamond Valley Lake.
Originally the 70,000 sq ft museum was not slated for green building certifications, but through the design process and careful collaboration amongst all the teams, they were able to achieve LEED Platinum certification. With harsh desert conditions, the facilities had to be designed to be able to withstand intense heat and cold, so energy efficient design played a major role. The architecture was inspired by the work of Gordon Kaufman, Parker Dam, and its pump houses, resulting in a building with a series of towers reminiscent of turbine houses.
Integrated into the museum’s roof is a 550 kW rooftop solar system consisting of 3,000 solar panels, which generates 50% of the museum building and campus needs. Low e windows maximize daylighting while minimizing solar heat gain and the roof and surrounding pavement minimize heat island effect. Drought tolerant native landscaping is irrigated with reclaimed water and permeable paving allows rainwater to percolate down into the water table.
Images ©Lehrer Architects