Topographical Map

Background information

1962, Joseph Young. 20'h x 80'w. 320 W. Temple Street
Responding to the real property deeds stored in the Hall of Records, Young designed a symbolic and abstract map of Los Angeles County for the exterior of the building. His mural depicts a bird's eye view of the county's geological features and water sources. Bronze cups represent reservoirs and lakes, and blue mosaic channels symbolize rivers and channels. Mountains are depicted in black, valleys in brown, and the Pacific Ocean is portrayed in both green and blue mosaic tile. The Sierras are the soft pink panels above the county boundaries. Embedded with brick in vertical patterns, the backdrop of split-faced granite reinforces and accents the building's vertical lines.

In 1959, Richard Neutra, the building's principal architect (the firms responsible for the Hall of Records were Neutra & Alexander, FAIA, Honnold & Rex, FAIA, Herman C. Light, AIA, and James Friend, AIA), invited Young to prepare a design for the exterior wall of the building's auditorium. After the design was approved by the architects and the County, Young constructed a full sized cartoon from which a wood and styrofoam mold was made. This mold formed a bas-relief in the cement wall. Templates were later made from the hardened bas relief and sent to Granite Industries in Delano, Minnesota, where the split faced granite was cut.

Young, who originally designed the map to only portray geological features, added the county's water sources to connect the piece with a reflecting pool at the bottom of the wall. Water was suppose to flow out of the bronze cups and stream down the mosaic channels into the pool, while lights in the bottom of the pool were designed to create an ever changing rippling effect at night on the mural. All these kinetic features were eliminated when the county turned the fountain off as an economy measure in the 1980s, leaving the pool dry and destroying the work's depiction of the relationship between water and Los Angeles.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, February 1998.

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