Compton City Hall and Civic Center
When the City of Compton completed its new City Hall and Civic Center in 1977, it declared a new beginning for a city incorporated in 1888. The new Civic Center included a post office, police department, county library, and courthouse arrayed around a large, paved central plaza creating an open public space for pedestrians. The plaza’s focal point is the King Memorial, a large sculpture of angled white planes arranged in a circle and converging at the top. It was designed by artist Gerald Gladstone in collaboration with the Civic Center’s architect, Harold L. Williams of Kinsey Mead & Williams, to be a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Most of the Civic Center’s buildings are in the Late Modern style, including the much-admired City Hall completed in 1976.
The buildings reflect the skillful hand of Williams, a prolific local African American architect who apprenticed under Paul R. Williams (no relation) for years. For City Hall, Williams designed a two-story, flat-roofed building clad largely in floor-to-ceiling glass. It is dominated by massive vertical concrete fins that span the length of the horizontally oriented building and act as solar shades. The shades are anchored in a shallow reflecting pool which provides an additional visual touch to the Late Modern building and also serves to cool the interior. City Hall’s main entrances are capped by heavy, upwardly angled concrete canopies that provide a real sense of occasion to entering the government facility.