Easily the strangest thing in downtown LA is the Triforium, a concrete sculpture covered in colorful glass prisms in a public plaza, surrounded by government buildings.
The obvious question — what is this thing? — doesn’t have a simple answer.
Artist Joseph Young built the Triforium for the plaza. Originally the plan was for it to have a computer controlled system of lights to illuminate the prisms, to rhythmically illuminate it in sync with a carillon.
Oh, and it was supposed to be topped with a laser that projected straight up into space.
There was one problem: it was 1975, and the technology was too primitive to realize this vision successfully. Also, the laser was never installed as it was already over budget. LA Weekly has more details on its history.
The public apparently didn’t care for the Triforium much after a while, the sound was disabled, and as attention to LA’s urban core shifted outward, the Triforium was not only ignored, but the reflection pool under it was drained and replaced with plants.
Now that downtown LA has become a much more vibrant place again, with it is renewed interest in the sculpture. Twice over the past few decades there have been restoration efforts, adding a new sound system, a modern computer, and LED lights to illuminate the prisms.
Unfortunately it’s still not always on, even at night. I took the photo on Saturday well after sundown at around 8 PM and it wasn’t doing anything. I suspect it’s only activated for special events.
Fortunately Curbed LA has several short videos of the Triforium back in action. I just wish I had the chance to see it working in person.