Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan have unveiled a slew of new images and design concepts for a scheme aiming to replace Los Angeles's largest art museum with a new 368,000-square foot complex. The plans were revealed last night during a joint talk delivered by Zumthor and Govan to a packed audience at the Brown Auditorium on the LACMA campus, where Govan explained that the project sought to re-signify the museum experience and undermine the traditional museum typology by creating a structure with “no back, no front.” The efforts, according to Govan and Zumthor, are aimed at granting prominence to art objects more equally, instead of relegating certain collections to the museum’s nether regions, as is currently the case. The plans build on a previously-released—and much-derided scheme—that aims to create a large, continuous gallery elevated high above the museum’s site in a structure that would span across Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The sinuous, oil-slick inspired structure—an homage to the La Brea Tar Pits next door—is lifted above the ground on a series of seven pavilion towers that house public galleries, conservation spaces, circulation, ground level cafes and restaurants, and an amphitheater. The pavilions stretch up into the levitated mass to create a complex set of interlocking gallery spaces. According to Zumthor, the project contains four types of galleries along this level: so-called meander galleries along the periphery, with smaller “pocket galleries” located throughout and grouped “cluster galleries” and “tower galleries” contained within the pavilions. The “tower galleries” in the scheme will be located within tall, triple-height light cannons meant to funnel sunlight into the galleries. The design is capped by a massive, continuously overhanging roof that would shield the museum’s collection from southern sun; black, retractable drapes are to be installed along eastern and western exposures to control for low-angle solar glare. Zumthor expressed a strong desire to create a museum from “real materials, not sheetrock,” and has proposed board-formed concrete surfaces for the gallery interiors. The building’s exterior—in fact, the entire building, generally speaking—will be made of concrete, as well. This material, depicted in the new images in mud-colored tones, is meant to evoke the Texas Limestone cladding of the nearby Renzo Piano–designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum and A.C. Martin–designed May Company building. In describing the project, Zumthor explained that his scheme originated with the traditional, non-purpose-built art museum: spaces originally constructed as homes for elite art patrons that brought in light via peripheral windows. This “side light,” according to Zumthor, creates dynamic conditions that allow patrons to “make personal discoveries” within artworks and drove the concept’s organization of small, oddly-shaped galleries with various connections to the outdoors. A preliminary timeline for the project aims to finish the project by 2023, in time for the opening of a new subway extension along Wilshire Boulevard. For more info, see the LACMA website.
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Vienna-based MAK has named Priscilla Lovat Fraser as the new director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, its Los Angeles—based satellite location. Fraser was chosen after a lengthy selection process following the departure of long-time MAK director Kimberli Meyer, who stepped down earlier this year to become the director of the University Art Museum at California State University Long Beach. Fraser was most recently senior architect and project manager at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she provided exhibition design for Chris Burden’s Metropolis II installation and the exhibition James Turrell: A Retrospective. Fraser has also been instrumental in shepherding Peter Zumthor’s controversial expansion proposal for the museum. That proposal requires the demolition of the existing William Pereira-designed LACMA building in lieu of a wholly new building by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery uplifted on a series of piers. Fraser has also served as the director of exhibitions and publications at Steven Holl Architects and worked under Barry Bergdoll in the Architecture Department of the Museum of Modern Art. In a press release announcing Fraser’s selection, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, the artistic director of MAK, described the selection of Priscilla Fraser as an "exciting dual opportunity for a successful non-profit arts organization to both build on its legacy and reimagine its future. We have no doubt that Priscilla will embrace the mission of the MAK Center and expand it ambitiously." Fraser will take up her post at the MAK Center’s Schindler House headquarters starting January 2, 2017.
Los Angeles architect William Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by a four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among the architect’s more than 400 diverse commissions, a list that also includes the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine; there he's depicted in front of the suburb's plan. Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other works are currently more deeply imperiled. One, Pereira’s Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1965) was heavily altered in 1986 by the Robert O. Anderson Building for 20th-century art, a $35.3-million, 115,000-square-foot addition designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. That structure—plus architect Bruce Goff’s Pavilion for Japanese Art, designed two years later—drastically changed Pereira’s original plan, which was initially conceived of as an austere art-acropolis surrounded by fountains. The plan featured three large, Cipollino marble-clad structures built around a central courtyard and water feature that connected to Wilshire Boulevard by a pedestrian bridge. The entire complex was lifted above the marshy and tar-laden grounds of the museum’s Park La Brea site. To much ballyhoo and controversy, plans were released last year for a Peter Zumthor-designed, $600 million replacement building that would demolish the Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates buildings altogether, wiping the slate clean. Those relics would be replaced with an oil leak-inspired scheme by Zumthor consisting of a continuous gallery raised on eight piers. A portion of the new LACMA would span over Wilshire Boulevard to the south. The outcry over the project has revolved mostly around the confusingly under-cooked Zumthor plan and its amateurish renderings, rather than the demolition of the existing structures, but a few Pereira enthusiasts have increasingly spoken out over the last few months as the LACMA plans gain steam and more Pereira structures come under the gun. Alan Hess, architect and scholar on 20th-century architecture, described the imperiled Pereira legacy over the phone to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), saying, “We are in danger of losing the buildings that defined his contributions and continue to shape Southern California at this moment.” Hess went on to describe Pereira as an architect who was never really loved by the public at large, saying Pereira was often thought of as “Hollywood’s idea of an architect,” a fact that has not been lost on a regional populace raised to sanctify the single family home at the expense of all other types of architecture and planning. As a result, commercial and civic buildings, often relics of periods of economic expansion and growth, are treated as relatively disposable, their cultural utility viewed more through an economic lens than an architectural or civic one. It so happens that many of Pereira’s works are these types of buildings—grand statements of their time, first and foremost, and icons of capitalism, commerce, and development, as well. As such, they are apt to be replaced after their fancy wears off and the age starts to show, which in Los Angeles, is a time span lasting roughly 30 to 50 years. The LACMA complex turned 50 years old in 2015 and no mention or effort has been undertaken to list the complex on the National Register of Historic Places, for example. Hess continued, “It is necessary to look much more broadly at the contributions of Modern Architecture in Southern California through the 20th century and realize that large scale commercial projects are not only very well designed and innovative, from the standpoint of what they are, but are also extremely influential. They set the patterns for the workplaces, homes, planning ideas, that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians.” But Pereira has yet to have his moment in the Southern California sun. The first and only retrospective of the architect's work didn’t happen until 2013 and at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, no less. There are also few major monographs of Pereira’s work. Adrian Scott-Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told AN over the telephone, “William Pereira-designed buildings and commissions seem to be increasingly at risk and we are at a time where [consideration of Pereira’s work] is past due in terms of its contribution to architecture and Los Angeles. It needs to be understood and put into a context and we are losing time.” But the civic and cultural institutions responsible for maintaining Los Angeles’s architectural patrimony have been relatively silent on saving Pereira’s work across multiple fronts. The Conservancy has yet to take an official position on the LACMA project, with Scott-Fine telling AN, “[The L.A. Conservancy] hasn’t come out with a position on the LACMA project. The current proposed project calls for a wing of the new LACMA to go over the Wilshire Miracle Mile. We want to know more about how that would impact the character of Miracle Mile. We’re still assessing.” Similarly, many other major museums or organizations in the region have not come out with statements of support for preservation efforts and time is quickly running out. Two of Pereira’s other projects, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) headquarters and a 1971 addition to the Los Angeles Times building, are also facing very real existential threats. The Los Angeles Times building was purchased last year by Canadian developer Onni Group and the company has plans to raze the Pereira section to make way for a housing development. It’s safe to say the building, too young to be listed on the National Register and articulated in a vaguely Brutalist style, is not long for this world. Pereira’s MWD headquarters is more a mixed story. Developers Linear City purchased a portion of the 1973 complex, redeveloping and restoring it. Their project, The Elysian, consists of 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 96 live-work units. The site also contains, however, two other structures from the same time period. Those properties were purchased by developer Palisades Capital Partners and now face demolition. A meeting of the city’s Cultural Heritage Commissioners last week rejected the building’s cultural landmark application in a 2-2 vote. The five-member panel currently has a vacant seat and decisions that end in a tie result in a take-no-action outcome. So, the building’s landmark designation was effectively denied. The site of this portion of the complex is zoned for up to 547 apartment units and the developer has expressed the intention of demolishing the structure outright in the name of new construction. Local Pereira activists and tour guides Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric organized a cohort of 100 or so supporters to attend the meeting and protest the decision, but their efforts were met with ambivalence. The group, who has been running tours of Pereira buildings over the last few months to raise awareness and has a planned meet up in October to tour the existing LACMA complex, has until October 5th to convince the Cultural Heritage Commission to reconvene and reconsider the nomination. The well-attended meeting drew support from Pereira’s own daughter, Monica Pereira, who spoke to AN in the days afterward, saying, “People have to realize that pictures alone don’t do [Pereira’s buildings] justice and that once a building is gone, it’s gone. These buildings have stood the test of time and it would be a black mark on the city to let them get demolished.” At the moment, what is missing is city-wide leadership on the civic appreciation of Pereira’s work from elected and appointed officials. Linear City’s work proves it is possible to radically repurpose midcentury structures and to do so in a way that benefits the future of the city while keeping an eye toward preservation. But Pereira’s works live with the uncomfortable luck of being both relics of their own respective times and potentially, a casualty of our own, only to be replaced by the future relics of this era. The question for Los Angeles right now is: Are its buildings simply economic commodities or are they expressions of history and culture open to reuse and reinterpretation? Either way, there is hope for Pereira buildings in other locations. The Braniff Building, a complex of Pereira structures featuring butterfly roofs and large expanses of glass and aluminum in Love Field in Dallas, Texas was recently converted into a mixed-use complex. Also, a bank building by Pereira in Phoenix, Arizona was recently restored by architecture firm Cuningham Group as an office for the company. In a press release announcing the project, Cuningham Group Principal Nabil Abou-Haidar stated, “For a firm such as ours that deeply respects good design, it is an honor to make this landmark our home. There is a clean-lined simplicity to the building that remains attractive to this day. It is certainly an approach we bring forward in contemporary architecture for our clients, and in our other offices around the world.”
The Getty-sponsored initiative, Pacific Standard Time, has released a partial list of the exhibitions associated with next year’s upcoming installment of its Southern California-wide arts extravaganza. Held every two to three years since 2011, the upcoming Pacific Standard Time installment for 2017 will focus squarely on facilitating cross-cultural artistic pollination by showcasing artworks and research from North and South America in the Los Angeles area. Pacific Standard Time is being presented by more than 70 partners located within a California area spanning Santa Barbara to the north, Palm Springs to the east, and San Diego to the south. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (PST:LA/LA), as next year’s initiative is known, aims to utilize the Southland area as a staging ground for the provocative presentation of works hailing from regions of the continent that feed into L.A.’s multicultural expanse. According to a promotional Youtube clip for the project, “A single form of artistic expression can be born in one place and reshape an entire region thousands of miles away. That’s the power of Latin American and Latino Art’s influence on Los Angeles,” adding, “It’s time for Southern California to turn a spotlight on its cultural and artistic roots.” Though the exhibitions presented will cover topics as diverse as luxury goods from the pre-Columbian Americas to post-World War II utopias in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, PST:LA/LA’s program also aims to showcase a variety of architectural- and design-related exhibitions that touch on critical architectural issues and their impact on art. The Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) are doing much of the heavy lifting in this department, with LACMA presenting multiple architecturally-related shows. LACMA’s Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985 will look at the exchange of architectural dialogues between California and Mexico and examine how the Spanish Colonial, Pre-Columbian Revivals, Craftsman, and Modernist architectural movements played a role in defining each locale throughout the 20th century. The museum’s Home—So Different, So Appealing, exhibition—part of a collaboration with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and organized by the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles—aims to present an "alternative narrative of postwar and contemporary art by showcasing the work of Latino-American and Latin American artists from the late 1950s to the present who have used the idea of "home" as a grounding feature in their work." LACMA will also play host to A Universal History of Infamy, a collective exhibition of more than 15 artists and collectives who have developed multi-disciplinary projects while attending residency programs organized by the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, California, including the work of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa and his A Brief History of Architecture in Guatemala from 2013. The Getty Research Institute's Urban Transfer(s): Building the Latin American Metropolis from Independence to the Threshold of Modernism will consist of a visual survey of the growth experienced by Latin American cities between the 1920s and today, tracing a narrative arc spanning from the decolonization period of the late 19th century to contemporary urban conditions for the metropolises that now dot the continent. The Palm Springs Art Museum will hold Living Architecture: Lina Bo Bardi and Albert Frey, a comparative look at the work of Brazilian Modernist paragon Lina Bo Bardi and Southern California architect Albert Frey. Bo Bardi translated Frey’s text, Living Architecture for Domus in 1959 and each helmed practices that engaged with Modernism in architecture as well as furniture and urban design. The Craft and Folk Art Museum will show The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility, a collection of work by individuals who grapple with the U.S.-Mexico border wall in their work, featuring work of artists and designers like Teddy Cruz, Adrian Esparza, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, and Ana Serrano. Last but not least, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery will hold Learning from Latin America: Art, Architecture, and Visions of Modernism a collection of work from Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican, and Venezuelan artists who have engaged with the contested legacies of Modern architecture in their work. To explore the growing list of exhibitions, visit the Pacific Standard Time website here.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Atelier Peter Zumthor launched a website yesterday, BuildingLACMA.org, that touts newly revealed renderings for a $600 million project aimed at demolishing LACMA’s existing galleries in exchange for a wholly new museum by the famed Swiss architect. The website launch comes as the first step toward the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required for the project to move into the construction phase. Thursday’s announcement also set out a date for the first “scoping meeting” for the current phase of the project, to be held on August 24, to hear public comment regarding the extent and scope of the EIR study. Zumthor’s updated renderings speak to the overriding parti of the project, an expansive, sinuous, continuous gallery spanning across Wilshire Boulevard, elevated on eight “pavilions.” A quote featured on the website states the following premise for the design: “With a horizontal layout and no back or front, every culture is given equal focus.” LACMA’s preference for the continuous, single-story gallery is seen as an equalizing and modernizing force for the encyclopedic art institution founded in 1910, during an era where European art was often displayed prominently while the works of other cultures were relegated to basements or accessory structures. LACMA’s impetus for the demolition of L.A. architect William Pereira’s 1965 structure is also touted as a pragmatic choice to replace “inefficient, deteriorating buildings with new, environmentally sustainable structures, embracing state-of-the-art resource management and technology.” In the current era of supersized museum expansions and relocations, however, it is perplexing that Zumthor’s designs for the new museum will actually create smaller overall building for the new LACMA. The new plans call for an approximately 368,000 square foot structure, while the current arrangement beats that projection by nearly 25,000 square feet. There is a plus side, however: The reorientation of the museum, use of “pavilions” as footholds, and overall decrease in gallery space will have the effect of producing 2.5 acres of additional public outdoor open space. The project aims for a 2023 completion date, due to coincide with the opening of an extension to the city’s Purple Line subway route, which will have a stop adjacent to the museum complex.
James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwellings contents and surrounding estate has also been included in the donation. In Pop-Culture, the house is most widely recognized for its appearance in the film The Big Lebowski. The dwelling commonly known as the Sheats Goldstein Residence includes an "infinity tennis court" (best not to hit it out of bounds), a James Turrell Skyspace, entertainment complex, and an extensive array of landscaped tropical gardens. Included as part of the contents of the house will be architectural models of the house, artistic works, and a 1961 Rolls Royce (pictured below). "Over the course of many meetings with Michael Govan, I was very impressed with his appreciation for the history of the house and the role it has played in the cultural life of Los Angeles, as well as with his vision for continuing that tradition when the house becomes an important part of LACMA's collections," Goldstein said. "Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to do the same to preserve and keep alive Los Angeles’s architectural gems for future generations.” https://vimeo.com/30456390 "Great architecture is as powerful an inspiration as any artwork, and LACMA is honored to care for, maintain, and preserve this house, as well as to enhance access to this great resource for architecture students, scholars, and the public," said LACMA CEO Michael Govan in a press release. "We are excited to collaborate with other arts institutions on events that speak to Jim’s interests and that connect and reach across creative disciplines—architecture, film, fashion, and art." The residence represents the unique relationship Goldstein and Lautner shared for more than three decades. Originally constructed in 1963 for Helen and Paul Sheats, Goldstein purchased the house in 1972 and began working closely with Lautner in 1979. Together they modified the house "according to Lautner’s and Goldstein’s ultimate vision," replacing all the glass to amplify the disparity between indoor and outdoor space. Other alterations saw the introduction of bespoke minimalist concrete seating (the seats we see "The Dude" aka Jeff Bridges sit on in The Big Lebowski), as well as glass and wood furnishings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShUhcBroF5Y The James Turrell Skyspace, named Above Horizon was added in 2004 and rises above the property's tropical gardens. Above Horizon also links to other works by Turrell in the LACMA domain, such as Ganzfeld Breathing Light, and the Perceptual Cell Light Reignfall.
With the entire hubbub over the L.A. River non-master plan, Gehry Partner’s new designs for Sunset Boulevard, a medal from the Getty, and critic Paul Goldberger’s hagiographic biography it’s easy to forget that a major retrospective simply entitled Frank Gehry opens LACMA on September 13. The exhibition originated at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and was curated by Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier, LACMA curators Stephanie Barron and Lauren Bergman curated the Los Angeles installment, which is designed by Gehry Partners. The Resnick Pavilion will be filled with over 60 projects, illustrated with dozens of models and drawings, from the 1960s onward. Several projects will be on view for the first time, including Facebook’s new campus and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s renovation. Touring the exhibition, the LA Times discovered a model of the Jazz Bakery, a non-profit music venue in search of a new home. Gehry’s pro-bono design for a site in Culver City includes 266-seat theater, a 60-seat black-box theater, and a West Coast jazz museum. According to LACMA, the exhibition tracks two threads of Gehry’s career: urbanism and digital technology. While the latter suggests a straightforward trajectory leading to CATIA Digital Project and Gehry Technologies, the first is more impressionistic, focusing on the architect’s use of everyday materials and his sensitivity to context to “create heterogeneous urban landscapes.” With conceptual themes in the exhibition such as “Composition | Assemblage,” “Conflict | Tension,” and “Unity | Singularity,” don’t expect much urban planning in the gallery. Gehry will be in conversation with Goldberger at LACMA’s Bing Theater on Sunday, September 13 at 2:00p.m. The event is free to the public, but tickets are required. More info on LACMA's website.
And… action. In a unanimous vote the LA City Council approved Renzo Piano’s plans for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The design, which includes a renovation of the AC Martin’s May Company Building on Wilshire and Fairfax avenues and the eye-popping addition of a 140-foot-diameter glass and steel globe sited behind the existing 1939 building, comes with at $300 million estimated construction cost and hopes to open in 2017. Located next to LACMA, the 290,000-square-foot museum is the third Piano project on the block. Its bold, spherical form (which will house a 1,000-seat theater) breaks character from the architect’s more low-key Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) and the Resnick Pavilion on the LACMA campus. “I am thrilled that Los Angeles is gaining another architectural and cultural icon,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “My office of economic development has worked directly with the museum’s development team to ensure that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will create jobs, support tourism, and pay homage to the industry that helped define our identity as the creative capital of the world.” While the City Council’s 13-0 vote ensures that the building moves forward into permitting, the project has seen some bumps in the road. Last year, AN reported that Culver City firm SPF:a, which had been working with Piano on the project since 2012, was removed from the project. The question of traffic and parking in the neighborhood remains a hurdle. The Los Angeles Times reported that activist non-profit Fix the City, is “weighing legal action to stall development.” The organization cites an 860,000 visitor increase to the area as a burden on existing streets and parking lots. When constructed, the sure-to-be iconic Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will compete with the hot-rod facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum designed by KPF, now under construction across the street. Both designs will be trumped if and when Peter Zumthor’s Wilshire-crossing proposal for LACMA takes shape.
When hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s email server in November 2014 and released stolen messages, the first stories to come out were Hollywood fodder. But buried inside the glut of toxic gossip, star salaries, and Emma Stone’s junior high school pictures are emails that tie together Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Peter Zumthor’s proposed design for the LACMA campus. In stories by ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times reporters reviewed the hacked messages and found that Lynton, a member of LACMA’s board of trustees, directed a $25,000 Sony contribution to a state super PAC—the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project founded by Ridley-Thomas—in exchange for a key vote on LACMA’s future. According to ProPublica, records and interviews show that although the contribution was made and publicly disclosed after the election, it was promised prior to a major county supervisors vote in November 2014 that backed $125 million dollars in public funds for the museum expansion, the construction of which is estimated at well over $600 million dollars. Ridley-Thomas represents the city’s Second District, an area that covers much of South Los Angeles, including Watts and Compton. The northern edge of the district runs along the south side of Wilshire and Museum Mile. Govan considered the supervisor’s vote pivotal because a portion of the museum crossed into his district. Zumthor’s scheme bridges to the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, ostensibly to avoid disturbing the La Brea Tar Pits and to provide better Metro subway access. Plans for the south side include a high-rise tower. In a July 2014 interview, Govan touted the design of the bridge and tower as essential for increased density and the creation of a cultural corridor along Wilshire. As for an architect for the skyscraper he said, “My dream would be Frank Gehry, it’s as simple as that.” To date, no proposals for such a partnership has come to light. ProPublica and LA Times reports track internal emails between Lynton and Ridley-Thomas’s aides that lead to a luncheon meeting between the CEO and the supervisor. Learning of this meeting, Govan took the opportunity to have trustee Lynton lobby for Board of Supervisor support. A July 17 email from Sony executive Keith E. Weaver spells out the reasons for advancing the proposal in a series of bullet points. One states that the new design crosses in to Ridley-Thomas's district, another ambitiously proposes that “this will be the most significant cultural building built in the US in the coming decade,” while a third point is more strategically ominous: “[T]he buildings are really in need of repair (like the Music Center), and if we don't get going on this, LA could find itself with its museum closed in 2023 while the new subway stop opens (and there's even talk of an Olympic bid).” According to ProPublica and the LA Times, it is this luncheon that initiated the flow of money from Sony to the PAC and influenced the supervisor’s important vote on the museum. ProPublica wrote:
At the lunch, Ridley-Thomas requested the contribution from Sony, according to his chief deputy. In September, the money landed in the coffers of the political action committee he founded to promote candidates and causes such as African-American voter registration. And two months after that, Ridley-Thomas voted for the museum project. All parties involved insist there was no connection between the contribution – far and away Sony's largest in California that year – and the supervisor's vote. Such a link could be a violation of campaign finance law.On November 4, 2014, the museum director sent a post-supervisor’s vote message to Lyndon commenting on a note he received from Ridley-Thomas. “Just got an email from MRT,” he wrote. “I think we're good!” It is uncertain how these email revelations will impact the future of the museum’s redesign. The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to Govan for a comment about the relationship between the vote and Sony’s contribution to the PAC. He responded, “There isn't any tie there.”
Artist Chris Burden created, among many other things, Urban Light, an installation of 202 antique cast iron street lights outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Metropolis II, a city model inside the same museum immersed with 1,200 matchbox cars. Burden has passed away at age 69, reportedly from a battle with Melanoma. With Urban Light, created in 2008, Burden brought street light art to the masses—it's now one of the most popular pieces of public art in the world. But he was not the first person to explore this medium in Los Angeles. That title would go to artist Sheila Klein, who in 1993 built Vermonica, a sculpture of 25 varying vintage lampposts located in the parking lot of a strip mall on the corner of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The installation still stands today. LA Weekly called it "an outdoor museum that chronicles the history of street light design while testifying to the poetry and sculptural presence of these ubiquitous objects." A precursor to Burden's Urban Light was also intended for Related Companies' Grand Avenue Project. Frank Gehry and LA art consultant Merry Norris had planned to run Burden's lights down the center of Grand Avenue about a decade ago, but as the project slowed down LACMA stepped in and bought the artist's piece. “What could I do? He had an offer that involved a lot of money," Norris told AN. Last year Burden also brought lamp art to the east coast with Light of Reason, an installation of 24 Victorian-era lampposts outside the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
Peter Zumthor's $ 600 million plan for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is changing. Again. According to a piece in the Los Angeles Times, the sprawling and curving black form has been angled off, weighted to the south, and outfitted with greyish, double-height galleries poking up above the main mass' roofline. The building still swoops over Wilshire Boulevard to avoid disturbing the La Brea Tar Pits, but it will now have just two entrances (instead of seven), at its north and south ends, and its continuous loop of perimeter hallway galleries has been removed. "Peter hasn't given up the curve. But he's really, really reined it in," LACMA Director Michael Govan told the Times. The latest design will be discussed tonight, Wednesday, March 25 at Occidental College, as part of the school's "3rd Los Angeles Project," a series of public events examining the city's move into a "dramatically new phase in its civic development." Members of the panel will include host Christopher Hawthorne, Govan, journalists Greg Goldin and Carolina Miranda, and architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has approved initial funding of $125 million in bonds (pending approval of the project's EIR), but LACMA still needs to raise about $500 million to make Zumthor's in-progress scheme reality.
It’s good to see some good old-fashioned roasting, and that’s what the Westside Urban Forum’s WUFFIES awards are all about. This year’s event, held earlier this month at the Los Angeles Times of all places, was full of the usual snipes on botched RFPs and difficult County Supervisors. But it also got in some good jibes at architecture’s expense. Our favorite: the Darth Vader Award, which went both to Peter Zumthor’s foreboding, jet black LACMA expansion and to Renzo Piano’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum with its helmet-looking theater bulging out of the old May Company Building.