Urban And Marine Research And Innovation

William McDonough + Partners worked with the Port of Los Angeles officials, philanthropic leaders, marine scientists, students and community members to create a bold vision to transform City Dock No. 1, a 100-year-old pier at the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, into a world-class urban marine research and innovation center.

AltaSea Master Plan,
Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, California

The facility features circulating seawater labs, offices, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, and an opportunity to develop the world’s largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.

The landscapes are living systems connected to the building’s mechanical, plumbing, and energy systems. Water will be purified, energy-optimized, and nutrients recovered and reused. Bio-filtration gardens will filter water from the seawater system — some six million gallons of saltwater will flow through the system annually.

The gardens will fill a long narrow space between the Berth buildings and the public promenade with approximately 3500 sf of multi-tiered, cascading living water tanks, planters, and features that express the water treatment processes to visitors, residents, and tenants in a captivating way. Nearly all saltwater used in the facility will be mechanically and biologically treated and returned to the ocean, cleaner than it was collected. The water gardens prevent 315 million gallons of seawater from going to the municipal water treatment plant. One hundred percent of the accumulated nutrients recovered from the seawater treatment system will be re-used on-site in the wetlands water gardens, and landscaping.

In a typical system of this size 2.25 million gallons a year of potable water is consumed for the seawater filtration processes. The AltaSea integrated water system will recycle storm-water, gray-water, and recovered water from the filtration process saving 2.25 million gallons per year of precious potable water.


AltaSea, Port of Los Angeles


Master Plan


28 acres


Master Plan Complete


William McDonough + Partners, Master Planners / Design Architect
Rana Creek, Landscape Architects
Page & Turnbull, Historic Preservation
TTG, Seawater System
Holmes Culley, Structural
WSP, Energy