The rumor-mill has been churning non-stop over LACMA director Michael Govan’s and architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for the museum. Basically it looks like they are planning to take LACMA apart and start over; an effort that failed when attempted by Rem Koolhaas and OMA back in the early 2000s. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA’s exhibition The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now we’ve gleaned that under Zumthor’s plan, not only would there be a new indoor/outdoor art park, but four of the museum’s midcentury structures would be replaced by “curvaceous modern glass structures.” That basically includes everything but the Bruce Goff pavilion and Renzo Piano’s new structures. Let’s see if the second time’s the charm.
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The Wall Street Journal recently published a confirmation of two things we've been hearing whispers of for years: One, Michael Govan is more of a builder than a museum director; and two, that Govan and Peter Zumthor are planning to basically take LACMA apart and start over. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA's exhibition, The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now the story has gleaned that under Zumthor's plan, four of the museum's midcentury structures will be replaced by "curvaceous modern glass structures." Other new pieces will include an "indoor-outdoor art park," while many of the new glass facilities—which could allow art to be seen from Wilshire Boulevard—will be contained under one roof and be covered with solar panels. As much as 80 percent of the art, Govan hopes, will be on display to the public. Stay tuned, Angelenos. It's about to get crazy out here.
Now we're really confused. Amidst reports that LA's MOCA might be taken over by LACMA or USC, now we hear via the New York Times that the struggling institution might now join forces with the National Gallery in Washington D.C. According to John Wilmerding, the chairman of the Gallery's board of trustees, MOCA is "close to working out a five-year agreement...to collaborate on programming, research and exhibitions." The deal wouldn't include fundraising assistance, but would obviously bolster MOCA's ability to raise money with the National Gallery's high profile assistance on programming, exhibitions, research, curation, and staffing. Oh, and guess who approached the National Gallery, according to the story: MOCA board chair Eli Broad, who has made it clear he doesn't want to be swallowed by LACMA. Stay tuned as this saga plays out.
As confirmed on its blog yesterday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has made a proposal to acquire the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA). "Our chief desire is to see MOCA’s program continue and to serve the many artists and other Angelenos, for whom MOCA means so much," said LACMA director Michael Govan in an online letter. Reportedly LACMA would preserve MOCA's two buildings, located on Grand Avenue and in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, the offer was made back on February 24. As part of the arrangement, LACMA would raise $100 million for the combined museums as a condition for completing the deal, according to their story. Another suitor for struggling MOCA is the University of Southern California (USC), which has been reported to have been in talks to merge with MOCA as well. That arrangement has a model in UCLA, which is partnered with the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Either way, it looks like something has to be done about financially-troubled MOCA: “If not us, who?” Mr. Govan said in an interview with the New York Times yesterday.
CTC realized Piano's design concept by designing and fabricating a cladding system of a structural steel tube framework covered by extensive FRP panels.For his design of the Resnick Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Renzo Piano revived an idea he first explored with Richard Rogers in their design of the Centre George Pompidou in Paris: the idea of the building as an organic breathing machine. At Pompidou, the architects turned the museum’s mechanical systems into expressive elements, color coding the pipes, ducts, gantries, and escalators and pulling them to the exterior of the structure. At the Resnick Pavilion, Piano located the mechanical rooms and air handling units prominently outside the four corners of the 45,000-square-foot building, applying cladding to the ductwork in a bright red color used in circulation corridors throughout the LACMA campus. Piano turned to Capastrano Beach, California-based design/build firm CTC (Creative Teknologies Corporation) to realize his design concept. “We took in data from three parties,” said CTC president Eric Adickes. “Piano gave us perspective sketches of how he wanted the air handling units to look, the air conditioning contractor, Acco, gave us Revit drawings, and the general contractor, MATT Construction, gave us 2D Autocad documents of the building and concrete foundation.” From those sources, CTC developed 3D models of a cladding system for the ventilation ducts using CATIA. The cladding system includes a structural steel framework that bolts to the ductwork, and fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) cladding that attaches to the steel. CTC coordinated with Piano’s office to refine the profiles of the system to achieve the architect’s vision. “Piano wanted flat surfaces with radiuses,” said Adickes. “FRP behaves in ways that you have to compensate for shrinkages and the material loosing its shape. If you’re not careful it can change its shape and not be what you think it’s going to be in the end result.” In order to ensure the flat-plane look, CTC relied on techniques commonly used in automotive construction, giving the material intentional crowns of as much as an inch or more. This technique applied double curves to all of the panels, which are as large as 10 feet by 15 feet. The intentional crowns produce the illusion of flatness and avoid any unintentional oil canning or puffing in the material, which would give the cladding a cheap appearance. “It’s part of the trade,” said Adickes. “You have to know the material to tactfully build the crowns in so you don’t go to far or too little.” Once Piano signed off on the models, CTC fed the CATIA data into its CNC routers, which cut the profiles from the FRP panels. CTC also installed the cladding system, attaching the steel structure to the ductwork and the FRP panels to the steel. Once installed, the firm painted the panels on-site.
Los Angeles enjoyed its customary sunshine last Sunday, making it the perfect time to peek inside some of the city’s most exclusive historic homes, thanks to LACMA's Art Museum Council, the museum’s volunteer support group. The council has been putting up an annual art and architecture tour, supporting the museum, for the past 56 years. In this year’s run, the council shared four homes of varying styles. AN was afforded a glimpse of the high life, not to mention lessons on how to display a LOT of objects. The tour included two homes east of the museum. The first was a landmark Tudor Revival on Windsor Square, designed by Arthur Rolland Kelly. Although renovated, it still features its original steel windows and stained glass artwork. To open up the space, the homeowners tore down a wall just beyond the doorway, where they found pre-existing archways. Looks like Kelley had the right idea after all. The home has an Old World charm, complete with handcrafted metal spoons made by Joe Spoon, a 1930s breakfast table from Wisconsin, and a pinwheel-painted floor that goes from the kitchen to the living area. The second east-side house may be familiar to readers of Architectural Digest, since it was featured in the magazine's April issue. The Hancock Park residence was interior designer Timothy Corrigan’s childhood home, which he once again re-acquired. He apparently sent the previous homeowner a childhood picture of himself playing in the swimming pool with a note that said, “Please let me come home.” Who could say no? Corrigan re-worked some of the Georgian Colonial’s original plan. He tore down walls to expand the 5-bedroom layout to a larger 3-bedroom one. He merged a small kitchen, back hallway entry, and maid’s quarters to form a long, open kitchen. On the second floor, he added a nautical skylight. The home effuses opulence with a light touch. Obelisks sit alongside finds from the Dorothy Chandler estate, Caravaggio paintings, and even a resplendent mahogany cabinet that once belonged to Catherine the Great. In the dining area, an oak table sits under a gold leaf ceiling and is surrounded by silk wall panels. Luxurious, but strangely not overwhelming. West of the museum architect Alfred Wilkes' mid-century modern in Trousdale Estates was a nice change of pace from all the tradition. It featured one long, flowing plan incorporating entrance, dining room, kitchen, living room, and bedroom. The owner discreetly added a few walls for artwork and storage. The home has an impressive kitchen—four ovens, three sinks, five dishwashers—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pieces displayed sophistication mixed with a lively sense of humor. In the dining room, the far wall displayed shadow puppet drawings. In the kitchen, a colorful collection of Dr. Skud fly swatters by Phililppe Starck sit opposite a framed collage featuring the owner’s daughter’s ice cream drawing surrounded by bright ice scream scoopers. In the living area, the owner displayed “Corridor,” an infinite illusion piece by artist Chul-Hyun Ahn. Our last stop was an eclectic home above Coldwater Canyon, which despite its rustic exterior is quite refined—and unusual—inside. The owner's love of Art Deco and Art Nouveau shows itself in the staircase, a reproduction of the Savoy Hotel’s in London, and in the opulent master bathroom, where step-tiered skylights are reminiscent of Mayan ziggurats. To top it off, Hagenauer sculptures show up in all parts of the home.
Robert Adams: The Place We Live Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles Through June 3 In his 45 years photographing the American West, Robert Adams has documented the evolution of landscape and our relationship to it. In response to the rapid development of his surroundings in Colorado Springs and Denver, Adams began photographing a landscape marked by tract housing, highways, and gas stations. His photographs, Adams says, “document a separation from ourselves, and in turn from the natural world that we professed to love.” Nearly 300 prints showcase Adams’ career, from his early shots of Colorado’s desolate terrain to his recent works documenting migrating birds in the Pacific Northwest, with special focus on his portrayal of the Los Angeles region.
When preliminary designs for the third and final section of the High Line were revealed, the designers presented several options including flowerbeds and amphitheater seating for the Tenth Avenue Spur, an offshoot of the park that stands above the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street. The design team’s aim is to make the Spur one of the main gathering spaces in the park. Now, with the proposal of a massive installation by artist Jeff Koons calling for a suspended locomotive over the park, the Spur may become exhibition space as well. Koons’ Train, a full-scale replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive, would be suspended above the High Line by a crane. The sculpture would be constructed from steel and carbon fiber, weighing in at several tons. Visitors to the park could stand directly below the 70-foot-long sculpture and stare up at the locomotive as it spins its wheels, blows its horn, and shoots out steam several times daily. Train has some history with the High Line; there was an effort in 2005 to install the piece in a plaza at West 18th Street and 10th Avenue but the space available would not permit installation. In 2008, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Michael Govan began studying the feasibility of installing the piece in conjunction with LACMA’s expansion, and talks with the City of Los Angeles are ongoing. But while LACMA managed to haul a 340-ton rock from a mountain quarry through the streets of LA, it seems their Train may have left the station. Both the museum and Koons have expressed support for installing Train at the High Line regardless of the outcome in LA, so the possibility of a trans-continental Train still exists. Arnold, a German fabricator, is conducting engineering and fabrication studies, taking into account public safety and cost. The piece is estimated to cost at least $25 million to build and install. Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, explained on the Friends of the High Line Blog, “Our top priority is to build and open the rail yards section of the High Line. In order for this idea to become a reality, we would need to determine a way to safely integrate Train into the rail yards design, and find private support from a single funder to build it.”
A piece of performance art for the ages wrapped up early Saturday morning as the centerpiece of Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass finally reached LACMA to fanfare typically reserved for a Hollywood premier. The star was a 340-ton rock that had enraptured spectators throughout its week-and-a-half journey into the city from a quarry near Riverside, CA. Hung from a 22-axle, football-field-long carrier, the rock was greeted by thousands of spectators in the streets of LA as it slowly crawled towards its final destination on the northwest corner of the LACMA campus. "We're really pleased it got here in one piece," said Miranda Carroll, LACMA's director of communications, who clocked the boulder's touchdown at the museum around 4:30 a.m on Saturday morning. Along the last leg of the trip people found viewing platforms in both typical and atypical places: atop the closed Interstate 10 onramps, huddling together amongst the green medians along Wilshire Boulevard, and crowding sidewalks and local businesses while mixing excitedly with the unsuspecting late-night bar scene. “The Rock” traveled through four counties and 22 cities, according to Carroll, moving through its 105-mile route only at night, at speeds of 6-8 mph, and resting along the roadside during the day. The final leg of the journey started at Florence and Figueroa Street, where the rock travelled from South Los Angeles, past Exhibition Park and the USC Campus, up Western Avenue, and west onto Wilshire Boulevard. As with previous parts of the trip, power lines had to be lifted, a few cars towed, and traffic lights moved by engineers so the rock could navigate down city streets. As part of LACMA director Michael Govan's ambitious plan to develop free public art on the museum's campus, the megalith will now be positioned atop a 456-foot concrete slot that has been waiting for it to arrive. Levitated Mass is expected to be open to the public in early summer 2012.
Metropolis II, opening at LACMA on January 14, is installation artist Chris Burden’s action-packed, raucous, optimistic view of Los Angeles sometime in the not-to-distant future. Eleven-hundred custom-made, die-cast cars, about twice the size of a Matchbox car, race through a multilevel system of 18 roadways that twist and turn and undulate amid buildings that seem vaguely familiar but are not replicas of any specific landmark (although, strangely, there is what looks like an Eiffel Tower). The cars whip along on a plastic roadway at fantastic speeds, producing an enormous din that echoes off the gallery walls like the incessant roar of real-life freeway traffic. HO-scale trains and 1930s-era trolley cars roll along tracks of their own, adding a cheerful nostalgia to the mix. Burden, who was smartly dressed in a Navy-blue suit, striped dark blue and cerulean shirt, and black loafers, said, “When you are stuck in traffic, think of this sculpture. That’s the future, a hopeful future, where cars will have an average speed of 230 miles per hour—as soon as Google gets its [automated] cars up and running.” In Burden’s joyously idealistic city, there won’t be traffic signals. Cars will cross intersections in a perfect harmony, effortlessly travelling through “the warp and woof of the city fabric.” Metropolis II—a name that invokes a fanciful makeover of the drab, congested present version of Los Angeles—is a boyish delight. Yet another in a long line of automotive utopias from the Hot Wheels that come wrapped for Christmas as committed to Walt Disney’s own autopia. It seems unfair, but you’re compelled to ask, where is the public transit that planners extol as our real future? What is the energy source for all these racing cars? And, most curious of all, where are all the people who’re supposed to be careening freely behind the wheels of all those racing cars?
Every once in a while forces converge and we get an epic architecture weekend. One of those weekends is happening now. Here are some of the events going on in LA this weekend: 1.) Hollywood Wilshire Boulevard Focus Weekend, featuring free admission at the A+D Museum, Hammer Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum, MAK Center, Fowler Museum along Wilshire Boulevard as well as events at all the institutions. All revolve around the Getty's epic Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions. These include: A discussion called The Legacy of the California Design Exhibitions at LACMA; a talk with Deborah Sussman about Eames Designs at A+D; a panel about Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement at the Fowler, a discussion about Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960 – 1980 at the Hammer; and a about Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design at the MAK Center. 2.) Launch of the exhibition, Architecture—A Woman's Profession at WUHO Hollywood and a Saturday panel discussion at the MAK Center, moderated by AN's Sam Lubell and featuring author Tanja Kullack as well as Barbara Bestor, Monica Ponce de Leon, Dagmar Richter, and Ingalill Whlroos-Ritter. 3.) Inglewood Open Studios, featuring visits to the studios of more than 30 artists (and a few architects) in this emerging arts district, but showing off great arts spaces like the 32,400 square foot Beacon Arts Building.
If all goes according to plan, sometime in early October an enormous boulder will leave a Riverside, California quarry and a couple of weeks later roll onto the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, to become an installation called Levitated Mass. In 1968, Michael Heizer, the artist behind Levitated Mass, made a drawing of a rock he hoped would one day emerge from the quarry he had been visiting. Decades later in 2007, the boulder he’d been looking for tumbled out of its granite escarpment. The 21½-foot-tall rock came to rest several yards from the quarry face. “It was quarried up top, and they pushed it with 2 bulldozers and a Caterpillar loader 300 feet. That’s how we pulled it off the mountain. But when it became a work of art, they had a big cradle and crane to move it,” remarked Stephen Vander Hart, the head of Stone Valley quarry, who seems both pleased and anxious to see the boulder leave his custody. It has taken nearly five years of fundraising and engineering to work out how to move the rock the 85 miles to Los Angeles. To get from quarry to museum, the 340-ton chunk of granite will be slung on thick cables suspended between two 127-foot-long steel beams and hauled at a snail’s pace by a Kenworth truck in front and an Oshkosh military transport from behind. Each truck is capable of producing 550 to 600 horsepower. The entire rig, front to back, will be 273'-10" inches long. LACMA says the rock is the “largest monolith moved since ancient times," a lofty claim no one could really prove or disprove. Still, toting the 670,000-pound boulder requires Emmert International (the firm building and driving the rig) to construct a transporter consisting of two hollow beams of welded and gusseted T-1 laminated steel. Each beam is roughly 2 feet wide, tapering from 40” up to a height of 6’-9”. The beams, which have been pieced together on site around the boulder, are made up of five sections that will be drawn together by bolts along vertical seams. When closed, the seams push against each other, like the keystone in an arch, becoming stronger because they are in compression. When completed, the beams will be connected by cross members and trusses, forming a 26’-7” wide saddle that will sit on 22 dollies with remote control steering. A total of 196 tires will bear the load. Empty, the rig will weigh nearly a half-million pounds; fully loaded about 1.1 million pounds. It will lumber, by night, at an average speed of five miles per hour. “It’s just a big rock,” said Rick Albrecht, Emmert’s supervisor for the move. “I’ve seen most of the route so far. We’ll do it,” he added flatly.