LACMA Lowdown

LACMA Lovers League starts petition to pause Zumthor’s new building

Architecture News Preservation West
Peter Zumthor's plan for the Los Angeles Museum of Art is being protested in a new petition. (Courtesy Peter Zumthor)
Peter Zumthor's plan for the Los Angeles Museum of Art is being protested in a new petition. (Courtesy Peter Zumthor)

A new petition on Change.org is calling for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to reconsider its unanimous vote to certify the final environmental impact report (FEIR) to raze and build over much of the historic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) complex. Started by a group called the LACMA Lovers League, the appeal urges those against the county’s decision to sign in support of halting the FEIR and encourage leadership to engage in a more open discussion with the community.

Since the release of the report in March, the Peter Zumthordesigned plan for the site has garnered even more widespread criticism because, in order to achieve it, the existing 54-year-old complex by modernist architect William L. Pereira, would need to be demolished. It would also effectively diminish the space reserved for the museum’s permanent collection and take away room for libraries and conservation facilities.

Overall, the $650 million proposal, which was updated with new renderings in late April, is “not a suitable replacement,” AN’s West Coast editor wrote in an earlier review. Originally, Zumthor’s vision referenced a splash of oil—it was an amorphous black canopy that spanned Wilshire Boulevard. Now, it’s lighter, more airy, and shorter in height. Still, critics have been skeptical—as AN‘s editor put it, it’s “just plain bad.”

Aerial view of updated LACMA proposal with winding amorphous roof in skyline

Aerial view of updated LACMA proposal (Courtesy Peter Zumthor)

Despite a massive outcry from both the public and leaders in the fields of art and architecture, the decision to approve the environmental report was made on April 9 in a 5-0 vote. In moving forward with the redevelopment project, supervisors also granted $117.5 million in public funding.

According to the petition, this outright approval was inconsiderate both to the historic integrity of L.A.’s cultural heritage, but also to the many voices that expressed serious and immediate concern:

“In doing so,” reads the petitions, “[the L.A. County Board of Supervisors] ignored recent criticism published by the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Curbed LA,  Architectural Record, The Art Newspaper and The Architect’s Newspaper, and hundreds of public comments running 83% against the project.”

At the time of publication, the petition had gathered 11 signatures.

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