Eli Broad’s effort to build a new museum on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards in Beverly Hills is looking all but dead. Sources close to the project have told AN that the billionaire art collector is looking elsewhere, while the Broad Art Foundation—asked to submit specific plans to the Beverly Hills Planning Division for an upcoming environmental impact review—has not communicated with the department since late April.
If built, the project would be located on one or two parcels of a proposed 3-acre commercial and retail project called the Gateway, located on a narrow strip of land once reserved for a rail right of way. The owners of that project are listed in the draft EIR (released late last year) as Roxbury Managers, Wilco LLC, and M2B2 LLC. Earlier this year Broad expressed interest in becoming part of the Gateway project, submitting a formal letter to the Planning Division. It remains unclear why he may have split from the project.
The site lies between some of Beverly Hill's most prominent landmarks, including the Beverly Hilton and Peninsula hotels and the old CCA headquarters, I.M Pei's first West Coast commission. It is currently occupied by a string of single-story retail stores, including a Starbucks popular with celebrities and their paparazzi.
Broad has been working with Gensler’s Marty Borko to develop a plan for the project, which would become the permanent home for the Broad Collections, a project in-and-of-itself that contains over 2,000 artworks. The building would also house a research and study center as well as the foundation’s administrative headquarters. The foundation currently uses an old Art Deco building miles down the road in Santa Monica. It houses offices and a gallery, which is only open by reservation and too small for the sorts of exhibitions Broad has said he would like to host. Borko did not return calls seeking comment.
Architects on the shortlist for the new project include Thom Mayne's Morphosis, Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban, Rafael Viñoly, and Christian de Portzamparc. It would be separate from Broad's two other museums, one at LACMA designed by Renzo Piano and opened last year, the other at his alma mater, Michigan State University, which was designed by Zaha Hadid and will break ground next spring.
One source said that Broad still wants the project to go forward somewhere else, although Erica Lepping, communications director for the Boad Foundation, told AN, “We have no new information to report.” Either way, until the formal environmental review for the Gateway project is released in September, the possibility of Broad still joining the Gateway is not completely off the table.