Narrow site, broad vision: LA Metro Light Rail Operations & Maintenance Facility

Gold Award: A slender building site had direct implications for the design of this light-rail facility.

June 08, 2017 |

Large skylights flood the maintenance area with natural light and turn what could have been a dark warehouse into a bright workspace. Chang Kim photograph.

Nine and a half acres may sound like adequate space for a 70,000-sf building, but when that acreage is shoehorned into a narrow corridor, problems can quickly arise. Such was the case for the LA Metro Division 14 Expo Light Rail Operations & Maintenance Facility.

To make the building site work, the design team needed to make as efficient use of the space as possible. Building spaces overlap over the rail yard and maintenance area and 34-foot-long moment frames span two tracks. Part of the building’s main hallway hangs over the maintenance area, as well.

To account for the OCS and pantograph and still meet California’s seismic requirements, open-span moment frames that allow train travel were used in the north-south direction in combination with brace frames in the other direction.

The design of the long, narrow building is more than just a product of its location. The facility goes beyond the basic functionality requirements of a typical operations and maintenance facility and promotes employee wellbeing and integrates into the surrounding neighborhood. The building incorporates plenty of natural light and is net-zero-energy ready and on track to attain LEED Gold certification.

Natural light played a huge role in the design team’s quest to incorporate the latest research in design for workplace wellbeing. Large skylights above the maintenance area fill the space with natural daylight while large roof vents naturally exhaust heated air. A floor-to-ceiling glazed curtain wall provides natural light and views to operations administrative offices, the control suite, and the operators room and amenities.


The site’s narrow dimensions heavily influenced the building’s design and led to the overlapping of some building spaces. Chang Kim photograph.


Building – Submitting firm, architect RNL Design Owner Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Structural engineer Nabih Youssef & Associates Structural Engineers MEP engineer Glumac

General Information – Size 70,000 sf Cost $100 million Construction time October 2011 to April 2016 Delivery method Design-bid- build


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