The Water + Life Museums and Campus celebrate the infrastructure of water and its central role in the evolution of life and development in California. The first LEED Platinum Museums in the world, the design aims to place beauty and sustainability — an inseparable couplet — at the center of its agenda as an environmental showcase. The 15 acre campus houses two museums, Water – The Center for Water Education and Life – The Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology.
Architects: Lehrer Architects and Gangi Architects
Location: Hemet, California, USA
LEED Consultant: Zinner Consultants
MEP Engineer: IBE Consulting Engineers
Structural Engineer: Nabih Youseff & Associates
Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect: Mia Lehrer + Associates
Solar Power Consultant: Vector Delta Design Group
Lighting: Prudential Lighting
Contractor: Lehrer, Gangi Architects
Owners: Metropolitan Water District, Western Center for Archaeology & Paleontology
Project Area: 70,000 sqf
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Fotoworks, Michael Lehrer
The Water and Life Museums are born of the construction of Diamond Valley Lake (DVL), the largest man-made water storage lake in North America. Set in the semi-arid Southern California desert near Hemet, DVL is an integral part of the state’s water infrastructure. The lake provides a 6-month emergency supply of water for all of Southern California.
Situated between 2 mountain ranges, the Diamond Valley Lake was created by damming the Valley’s open ends with two 300‘ high dams. The construction of these dams is the largest earthwork project in American history.
The Museums are located half way between Hoover Dam and Los Angeles, and are near the base of the East Dam of Diamond Valley Lake. The design of the buildings draws inspiration from the honorific architecture of Gordon Kaufman, Parker Dam, its pump houses, and the serial turbines and machinery that bring us water.
There were numerous challenges, including the harsh climate with extreme temperature fluctuations daytime, nighttime, and season. The daunting scale and form of the 300′ high and 2.5 mile long East Dam, made from rock mined from the surrounding mountains, also had to be considered.