Nueva Azalea
The program was for a prototype canopy and enclosure for the Sunlaw Corporation power plant in the mixed residential-industrial neighborhood of South Gate in Los Angeles. The power plant for Sunlaw Energy Company was be called Nueva Azalea in a nod to both the community's Spanish-speaking population and its city flower. However, the project was scrapped in 2001 due to strong local opposition to the construction of a power plant; a referendum was carried out where the Plant recieved 2 votes against, for every 1 in favour of construction.

In the design process MRY looked at research tower precedents, visionary towers, towers in ancient history, towers of Babel, towers as lighthouses, towers as energy source i.e. windmills, towers as symbols, towers of information, air traffic control towers, towers as markers, campaniles, city landmarks, towers as solar collectors, towers representing culture, minarets, spires, towers of light.

As an overall concept to unify the different parts of each plant unit, two formal schemes were merged to create the final design of the elliptical cylinder juxtaposed with the sweeping arc of steel canopy. This gesture acts to integrate the plant unit's smokestacks with its power generators and scrubbers. The two plant units are juxtaposed and staggered, so that the silhouettes of two similar forms were visible from the adjacent 710 freeway and from the surrounding streets. The skyline of the project formed by the curved and vertical elements was meant to provide a powerful symbol and landmark for both the South Gate community and Sunlaw Corporation.

MRY wanted to express the plant's function with an architecture that is honest, even celebratory, rather than attempt to disguise it. To accentuate the visibility and reinforce the identity of the power plant, they used high-technology, machined materials such as steel and woven-wire mesh and since ventilation is a major concern, the sweeping arc of the canopies were to have less than 50% opacity. The design had many open elements throughout to accommodate the passage of air as well as for ease of maintenance of large pieces of equipment. All the sides as well as the top of the structure had openings. The plan for the building was also splayed, intended to reduce the massive appearance of the structure.

The elliptical cylinders containing the stacks are poised at an angle, giving these towers an active silhouette against the sky. A computerized lighting system was intended, which would animate the leaning towers, heralding the changes of seasons and events such as Halloween or the Fourth of July by the use of graphics and colors. Information about the environment and MRY's use of energy sources could also be shown on the towers.


5 drawings