LACMA Redesign Offers New Renderings on Museum Update Amid Critique and Approvals

Redesigning the Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts is still mired in controversy and critique, despite getting a vote of approval from the Board of Supervisors. The updated version of the museum offers less gallery space, and takes staff offices off-site. Despite the green light from the city, there is still tremendous backlash against the architect and the process by which the job was awarded.

Now, new renderings are available for the controversial makeover.

According to UrbanizeLA, the $650-million project, which is slated to begin work later this year, calls for replacing two of the museum’s oldest buildings with a glossy new structure designed by architect Peter Zumthor. Though the design for the campus has gone through several iterations, the approved project consists of an amorphous two-story, 350,000-square-foot structure which would span across Wilshire Boulevard.

Writers for Curbed, The Architects Newspaper, and the Los Angeles Times have all called for the project to be cancelled, objecting to the controversial decision to bridge over Wilshire and that Zumthor’s design would  result in less space than currently exists at LACMA.

The most scathing critique came from Joseph Giovannini in a piece entitled “LACMA: Suicide by Architecture,” which questions not just the design of the proposed building, but a lack of transparency in the process which led to its conception. Giovannini points out that LACMA did not hold a public design competition prior to the selection of Zumthor, and notes that no schematic plans detailing the exact size of the building have been presented to date. He also argues that Zumthor’s sprawling, low-profile design will consume most of LACMA’s remaining real estate, thereby limiting opportunities for future expansion – a problem that is exacerbated by the decision to rent space to the adjacent Academy Museum of Motion Pictures at a below-market rate.

The Board of Supervisors voted to certify the project’s final environmental impact report earlier this month, while also approving the final installment of a $125-million public contribution to its construction (and $300 million in bonds to be repaid by LACMA).  As of early April, the museum had raised $433 million – out of a total goal of $525 million in pledged funds – and collected $82 million.

Construction is scheduled to begin before the end of 2019.

The new building could open as soon as 2023, a schedule which would align with the completion of the Purple Line’s Wilshire/Fairfax Station.

Photo Credit – LACMA Redesign

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