This is Helios House, on the southeast Corner of Robertson and Olympic in West Los Angeles. It's the work of Office dA and Johnston Marklee, a BP gas station that opened in March 2007, replacing their former station at the site. It has received a great deal of press, and this write-up at losangeles.com provides the basics. It has been certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) one of only ten structures in the City of Los Angeles so far.
The canopy is what catches your eye of course it houses the ninety solar panels that supply power for the station, thus the name of the place, but what's interesting is that it's clad in triangular stainless steel panels that are completely recyclable, and each individual panel can be easily removed and reused on another building. The unfinished stainless steel surface also increases light reflectivity which in turn reduces lighting demand. The lighting is controlled by photocells and motion detectors to optimize things.
There are no traditional signs the price board on the corner shows only the stainless steel flower logo and a very small "bp" and the billboards that remained now do not carry BPs name, just short eco-phrases and flower images. It's "stealth marketing."
The restrooms are always unlocked tiles made from recycled glass, farmed wood and a music system control panel that lets you pick songs from BPs library. The roof is covered with drought-tolerant plants to increase the total landscaped area on the site and to naturally insulate the restrooms.
As for landscaping, most of it is the drought tolerant and native. Rainwater is collected by the giant canopy and pumped to irrigate it all.
Much of the building material from the previous gas station on the site was recycled for this building or used on others, and the station has recycling bins for paper, cans, bottles, and cell phones, of all things.
But it's still a gas station. On the other hand, it is a visual treat.