Cactus Tower / Eric Owen Moss Architects

© Tom Bonner

The existing 30,000 sqf building was originally used for light manufacturing, constructed in the 1940′s, has walls of poured concrete, and a roof structure that is a sequence of wood bow string trusses. A large steel frame, enclosed with corrugated metal, 50 feet high, is located just outside the warehouse, where a industrial press was once housed. The now vacant tower was stripped revealing a ramshackle steel support structure, and a supporting concrete block wall. With the intention to reuse the existing structure, Eric Owen Moss Architects reinterpreted the space to create an outdoor meeting and gathering area.

More photographs and drawings of the Cactus Tower following the break.

Architects: Eric Owen Moss Architects
Location: Los Angeles, California,
Photographs: Tom Bonner

© Tom Bonner

A new “green structure” is installed mid-way up the tower, providing a canopy/pavilion that defines a space for outdoor work and relaxation. This new structure is composed of 28 steel pots, each holding sufficient earth for a single, Mexican Fence Post Cactus (Lemaireocereus Marginatus).


The pots are positioned in six parallel lines of pots, running east-west. Each pot-line is a linear sequence of five cacti, and a new structural truss spanning from one edge of the original steel structure to the other. The pots are compression struts, five per truss, serving as the vertical chords of the five new trusses that compose the garden. The top chord of each new truss is an 8 inch steel “T”, the bottom chord is a steel cable. Each pot is slotted from below, and the depth of each slotted pot varies as a function of the position of each pot in the truss sequence. The slots follow the line of the bottom chord/cable from one end of the structure to the other.

© Tom Bonner

Perimeter pots have the deepest slots; centrally positioned pots, the least. Irrigation lines and lights, unseen from below, are located on the top chord “T’s”. A ladder leading to the cacti is provided for maintenance. In the center of the Cactus Tower, two pots are omitted from the sequence to allow for the penetration of the afternoon sun to the meeting area floor.

© Eric Owen Moss Architects

As a consequence of its height, the Cactus Tower is seen from long distance, a symbol of drought tolerant greenery on the West Los Angeles skyline. The Cactus Tower is the result of combining an environmental advocacy position, an outdoor space, and a new truss typology.  The Cactus Tower will serve as a logo and a conceptual model for the sort of production work to be delivered by Foundation Content.

© Tom Bonner

A large new, multi-purpose production studio, constructed of metal studs and drywall, tightly wrapped with acoustic fabric is designed and constructed within the 30,000 square foot shell. The production facility is surrounded by a variety of open and closed conference facilities, private offices, post-production venues, and eating and relaxation accommodations. Three glass roll up doors are installed on the perimeter walls of the existing concrete shell, opening to the Cactus Tower just outside.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Cactus Tower / Eric Owen Moss Architects" 03 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
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  • PatrickLBC

    Very cool, but I have one question — Why bother with irrigation lines? LA gets enough rain to keep cacti alive, so why waste water? Especially if you are trying to make a “green” statement.

    • David Dodge

      You are equating irrigation lines with waste. That’s a bit of a stretch. And, no, LA does not get enough rain to keep cacti alive when they are in pots as opposed to cacti in the ground.