Vernon Water Treatment Facility

Spatial Design
Vernon Water Treatment Facility is a proposal inspired by the procession of step wells, the aesthetic quality of Roman aqueducts, and the functionality of water treatment facilities.


There’s much to be seen and heard in Vernon, but no sane person would bother to engage their senses.

Industry has been deeply rooted within Vernon’s landscape ever since its inception in 1905. This union comes at the price of polluting the lands inhabited as businesses dump and bury their waste and pollutants. The effect — inhabitants of Greater Los Angeles are free to enjoy unspoiled lands.

If Los Angeles is to be the product, then Vernon will be its country of origin.
Vernon industrial zones, with green indicating hazardous waste processing zones


In a bid to foster understanding of the industrial processes LA relies on and to address efforts of the LA River Revitalization Master Plan, a plan aimed to reverse the impact of the artificial encasement of the LA River, the project proposes a water treatment facility in the city of Vernon.

The programming of the Vernon Water Treatment Facility is catered towards both industrial efforts, as well as educational opportunities. Workers traverse the catwalk, observing and taking samples from below, while visitors roam the treatment grounds below, engaged in discovery.
Site plan


The design of Vernon Water Treatment Facility draws from two main sources.

Upon the ground, where water treatment takes place, the pools step ever so gradually towards the basin of the LA River. This motion, symbolic in its eventual deliverance of treated water back to the anemic river, is inspired by the alluring form of step wells, whose presence allows for communities to gather and collect fresh water.

Above, the arched and hoisted testing facilities resemble the long horizons and rhythm of Roman Aqueducts. They stand stoically above the treatment pools and permits workers to ensure its proper operation.
Four early studies of architectural follies as points of convergence between visitors and workers
The treatment of water consists of six general steps — Lifting, Separation, Settling, Primary, Secondary, and Chlorine. Of these phases, the latter five are performed in treatment pools. Between each phase, the water is tested to ensure proper treatment and compliance to given standards.

The treatment pools vary in size and shape, owing to their specific purposes, whether the water is to be moved along or to continuously agitated. Each phase is represented in the level change of the pools, as they gradually step down to the level of the river basin.
Studies for the formal configuration of the treatment pools
Three schemes were considered for the organization of the testing facilities. In a consolidated format, the program would be gathered centrally, but not allow for opportunities to interweave between pools and facilities. Conversely, a scattered scheme could encourage this interaction, but at the cost of decentralized facilities.

The linear scheme addresses the shortcomings of the former schemes, and allows for free movement atop a strong sense of organization to enable efficient workings and sufficient learning.
Organization strategies of the facilities (green) in contrast to the treatment pools (blue), circulation paths outlined in black

final design

The following drawings and renders are of the final design iteration of Vernon Water Treatment Facility.

The ground is given to the treatment pools, while four structures sit atop it. These structures house testing facilities as well as educational programming for visitors. A catwalk forms a circulation path between these facilities, while steps bring about unity throughout the different levels of the treatment pools.
Left — Treatment Level Plan
Right — Facilities Level Plan

a future

While Vernon Water Treatment Facility is positioned for the purposes of today, it is projected to also exist as an archaeological site for the future. Long after human intervention, and long after our need for its facilities, the structures will remain as steadfast as the day it was built — as infrastructure worthy of our time.

Its vessels will carry not water, but the collective imagination of inhabitants unknown, and in its discovery, a story about Los Angeles, its encased river, and the efforts leading to its revitalization.
A view of the Vernon Water Treatment Facility

(undisclosed date)


The 4ft by 8ft model consisted of foam, wood, painted chipboard, 3D printed components, and acrylic.

Framed drawings accompanied the model, with select drawings containing gilded elements.