The Poetics of Air - CODAworx

The Poetics of Air

Submitted by The Lessick Empire

Client: City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering and Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art

Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team

Contract Manager

Ligeia Gorre


Sculptor, fabricator

Leland Means

General Contractor

Frederic LECOurs

Pinner Construction


Site-integrated public art exploring the impact of oxygen for a microbial air scrubber facility over the City’s main waste water line. The Poetics are in four stanzas with rocks, clouds, plants and the large oxygen atom (Sign of Life) on altered screen. Entry boulder seating; sculptural clouds and seasonal plants contribute additional meditations on the importance of cleaning air. With stainless steel, hammered steel pipe, carved stone and xeriscape landscaping. Bureau of Engineering Air Treatment Facility #1, Los Angeles, CA.


The goal was to create a public art treatment for an unstaffed facility to clean airborne particulate from waste water offgassing, sited adjacent to a low income residential neighborhood. In addition to celebrating the new facility, the public art created a well maintained, de facto open space in a park poor neighborhood. The artist's own goals include reflecting the seasons and providing visual interest, seating and shade for area families and factory workers on break.


In Feb. 1998, then the wettest February in LA history, sewer overflows occurred in several areas in throughout the City. Santa Monica Baykeepers filed a federal lawsuit against the City asking for injunctive relief and over half a billion dollars in penalties. In 2001 others joined the lawsuit including a number of south LA community groups and alleged that the City had too many dry season overflows and odor problems. They received consent decree to govern the design and management of equipment and operational upgrade of the sewage collection system. Agreement was reached in 2004 and the City designed seven Air Treatment Facilities. This is the first.
The process had significant involvement from the Bureau of Engineering. The community was invested in getting the facility completed, as objectionable fumes impacted their neighborhood for decades. The artist's approach, to create art celebrating clean air, was an agreeable theme for all parties.

Additional Information

The design build facility allowed for inkind contributions from the general contractor and landscape designers. Factory workers in adjacent sites visited during installation and thanked us for the project.