Public Work Architecture Spotlight: The Hoover Dam

By May 25, 2016Architecture

Sustainable architecture this, sustainable architecture that. For the past few weeks, we at SH Architecture have gone on describing sustainable architecture designs and ideas. And for good reason: They’re amazing.

But in doing so, we breezed by our other specialty: public works architecture. What is public works architecture, you may ask? By definition public works is the work of a building carried out by the government for the community. Examples of public works include parks, schools, hospitals, airports and, for the purposes of this week’s piece, dams.

While we do splice together sustainable architectural concepts and designs into our public work architecture projects, balancing these concepts along with creating something that serves a vital function in society is a challenge. Whenever an agency contracts us to help create one of their public works architecture project, we look for inspiration.

Today, we are looking at one of our biggest inspirations and discussing the modern architecture monument, the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam’s Construction

In the late 1920s, the United State Bureau of Reclamation searched for the perfect spot to create a dam for the Colorado River. They made a claim in between the border of Arizona and Nevada as you know today. President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill authorizing the public works project on December 21, 1928, and construction of the dam started in 1931.

hooverdam construction

That’s a lot of dam concrete for a public works architect project.

The construction firm responsible for building the dam was a joint venture company known as the Six Companies Incorporated. The company was also responsible for providing housing for the influx of workers. This led to Boulder City’s creation.

Architecture wise, the Hoover Dam utilizes an arch-gravity. An arch-gravity, otherwise known as an arched dam, is built upstream in a narrow curve. This structure directs the water against the rock walls of the canyon, creating compression. The dam directs the water into channels, which turns the turbines inside the structure, and it is then released on the other side of the reservoir. This reservoir is also known as Lake Mead. By building like this, the dam will not break under the river’s force.

The architectural style of the dam is art deco, which was the fashion at the time. Gorden B. Kaufmann, the supervising architect of the USBoR, designed the exterior of the dam while Allen Tupper True designed the interior, specifically the floor and wall decorations.

After the dam’s completion, Six Company, Inc. negotiated and formally transferred the building to the USBoR on March 1, 1936.

The Hoover Dam Today


The Hoover Dam is a famous Public Works Achitecture Project

Today, the Hoover Dam generates power for the states of Nevada, Arizona and California. Additionally, it is one of United States largest tourist attractions that teaches Nevada history, energy production and modern architectural design.

Looking for Help on Your Next Public Works Architecture Project?

If you are looking for a Las Vegas architecture firm or Salt Lake City architecture firm to help you with your public works project, contact SH Architecture today. Our firms in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah, specialize in the sustainable and public works architecture and are ready to help you create something built to last.



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