|Proposed LACMA building|
It's time to revisit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's proposed expansion plans. When we last left off, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne was quite excited about Swiss architect Peter Zumthor's plans to replace the William Perreria and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer buildings currently on the LACMA campus with a building that appears to reference the Tar Pits from above. In a related article for Planetizen Jonathan Nettler asked "How does it look to a family walking along Wilshire Boulevard?" More important, "Will this be an improvement over the current campus?" One of the overriding concerns was that the proposed design would encroach on the tar pits, located in the neighboring George C. Page Museum. One year later and in response to said concerns, Peter Zumthor is back with a modified proposal for the LACMA.
|Updated design for LACMA|
Christopher Hawthorne considers the decision to span Wilshire Boulevard, making drivers pass under the building in both east and west directions, a bold decision. Mr. Hawthrone further observes, "the new location will change the character of the building in ways that Zumthor has only begun to grapple with." Mr. Govan already has the support of city and county officials for this scaled-down plan. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is also supporting the idea to span the boulevard. Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the Miracle Mile where the museum resides, said "the new design offers a 'tremendous vision' for the Museum Row section of Wilshire Boulevard. 'It retains the historic beauty of the La Brea Tar Pits and at the same time crosses the boulevard in a way that will make it the center of the universe of art.'" A pretty grand pronouncement, typical of a politician. Councilman LaBonge announced that the Wilshire corridor will witness other dramatic changes in the coming years with visitors being able to access the museum via a subway station at Fairfax Avenue. "There is going to be an opportunity people across the region [to LACMA] through transit."
|LACMA Wilshire entrance|
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the museum, also praised the new design. Supervisor Yaroslavsky said, "It solves the tar pit problem, and it creates a unique structure in Los Angeles...It will be a magnet not only to people in Los Angeles, but to people from around the world." Also on board with the changes is Jane Pisano, the director of the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, who is said to be pleased with the updated proposal.
Good feelings aside, Christopher Hawthorne points out, "...in trying to produce a more neighborly building, Zumthor and Govan have created some architectural
|The Resnick Pavilion|
Moving the proposed building above and across Wilshire fundamentally shifts the relationship between building and site. It results in making the proposed building a more urban object, part of the boulevard and more situated in the public sphere. Further, the new building will, essentially face itself, creating what Mr. Hawthorne calls "...a kind of hall-of-mirrors context." The upside is museum patrons won't have to look onto passing traffic. This proposed condition-a building spanning one of the world's most recognizable boulevards instead of a museum wing on an open site next to the tar pits-would appear to require a new architectural approach or a significantly modified one.
|Rendering of proposed Grand Avenue development|
|Screen shot of LACMA|
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