There's a desert downtown, and it's not because the citizens of our drought-ravaged state have been keeping the sprinklers spraying and the cars sparkling. This desert, hidden at the side of the 801 Tower, is one of the more Southern California–inspired spaces decreed by the 1 percent development mandate, which has helped create sculptures, statues and public parks all over downtown. Inspired by the Zanja Madre, L.A.'s original water source for the pueblo, Andrew Leicester's design features desert mosaics, a compact garden of cacti, paradise-flowering pear and cypress, and a stylized pyramid fountain with an arrowhead on top. You enter through winglike gates alongside lanternlike towers, and can catch humanoid figures and the odd lizard, snake, beetle and goat skull lining the walls and benches. Ignore the office workers and their Styrofoam lunches and visit an area that inspired the early Batman movies, and obviates the need to drive to Palm Springs for some desert style. —James Bartlett
801 S. Figueroa St., dwntwn., 90017.