The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors yesterday approved the contribution of $125 million in bond funds to LACMA's $600 million makeover, which, under the guidance of Peter Zumthor, would tear down most of the campus and snake over Wilshire Boulevard. The new 410,000 square foot building would open in 2023, with the remaining funding coming from private donations. According to the LA Times, LACMA director Michael Govan told the Board of Supervisors that the museum's older buildings “are really ailing. They are not worth saving. The new building will be much more energy efficient and accessible to a broad public.” According to LACMA the campus' existing buildings would need $246 million to $320 million for upgrades. And so in a city of teardowns, the biggest museum in town seems to be clearing the way for one of its own. Meeting their demise would be William Pereira's Ahmanson, Hammer, and Bing buildings, as well as Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer's 1986 addition. Buildings remaining would include Renzo Piano's new BCAM and Resnick buildings and Bruce Goff's Japanese Pavilion. The project is still far from moving ahead. LACMA spokesperson Miranda Carroll recently told AN that there is close to a year remaining before the project's feasibility concludes, and the museum's board still must vote to proceed. The agreement (PDF) with the supervisors also provided about $7.5 million for feasibility and planning studies.
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The surprises keep coming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). After learning that the museum plans to shift its proposed Peter Zumthor–designed building southward (partially bridging Wilshire Boulevard) to avoid damaging the La Brea Tar Pits, now comes news that the museum is hoping to partner with LA's transit agency, METRO, to build a tower across the street. LACMA Director Michael Govan's choice for an architect? Frank Gehry. "That's my dream," Govan told the LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne. "I'm jealous that New York has a Gehry tower and we don't." The tower would be located near Wilshire and Fairfax, near the site of the current A+D Architecture + Design Museum, which is being torn down to make way for a staging ground for Metro's Purple Line expansion. Ironically Govan said he hopes to build his own Architecture and Design wing there. No word on the tower's design or height, or on whether it will even happen. But Gehry has acknowledged discussing the plan with Govan. "I'm open to it," he told Hawthorne. So far Govan and Gehry have been unavailable for comment to AN. There are so many obstacles standing in the way of these grand schemes. But a post on LACMA's blog points out that if they go ahead, one block of LA's Miracle Mile will contain designs by three Pritzker Prize winners— Gehry, Zumthor, and Renzo Piano, who not only designed two new buildings for LACMA, but is designing (now solo) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum.
Today LA Times critic Christopher Hawthorne revealed Peter Zumthor's revisions to his $650 million, blob-like plan for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Instead of hovering over the La Brea Tar Pits, the new design now floats over Wilshire Boulevard, touching down on a former parking lot across the street. According to Hawthorne's story, the plan is being supported by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, councilman Tom LaBonge (whose district contains LACMA), County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and the Natural History Museum, which oversees the Page Museum and the Tar Pits. But neighbors are skeptical for more practical reasons. "As we’ve painfully learned the devil is in the details," said Ken Hixon, vice president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA), which represents around 7,000 people in the area. "We’re not the design police. We want good design. We want good architecture. But it’s all about the connective tissue." For now, he points out, such issues — like the museum's relationship to local housing, available parking, preservation, street life, and, of course, construction—have yet to be specified. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project is still far off. The situation is more pressing considering the coming additions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum, the renovation of the Petersen Museum, new subway stations on La Brea and Fairfax, and several new mixed use developments, which will all put significant pressure on the neighborhood. "The challenge here is to have a major cultural center in such a densely populated urban corridor," Hixon said. "Everything leans on everything else. This is a big rock in the pond. It's a lot to take in." Hixon did add that the move over Wilshire will bring the museum even closer to local businesses and residences, which could be a concern, considering what's already happening here. “You’re likely going to wind up with major institutions overwhelming single family homes," he noted. But he insisted that the MMRA was still trying to take everything into consideration. One thing is clear, he noted: "The next ten years are gonna be crazy."
Metropolis II Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California Ongoing Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture by American artist Chris Burden, who is probably best known for his 1971 performance piece Shoot, in which an assistant wielding a .22 rifle shot him in the left arm. Part of LACMA’s permanent collection and on view multiple times per week, the sculpture is modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. In it, Burden used steel beams to construct an intricate system of 18 roadways—including one six-lane freeway—and several train tracks. When set in motion, miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour. Every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.”
Peter Zumthor’s design for a new central building at LACMA has some experts concerned with its environmental effects. Critics including John Harris, chief curator of the National History Museum’s Page Museum, worry that the project could disrupt the La Brea tar pits, the same ecological features that inspired the building’s blob-like shape. At a meeting last month the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to request a presentation from the Page Museum fleshing out the curator’s concerns. That presentation has not yet been scheduled, according to the Page Museum’s press office. If Harris’s hunch proves correct, the LACMA redesign would join a long list of local architectural-environmental disasters, stretching back decades, to the earliest days of European settlement. For instance, Los Angeles Aqueduct had drained Owens Lake by 1924, and in 1941 began diverting water from Mono Lake. Only last month did the city of Los Angeles and other parties including conservationists reached a tentative settlement that would repair some of the damage done to Mono Lake. So without further ado, below is our list of some of the most significant environmental catastrophes (and near-catastrophes) in LA history. We hope LACMA's issues will be addressed, and that it won't be added to this list: Beginning in the early twentieth century, Los Angeles’s 14,000 acres of wetlands were filled in to make way for tony residential developments like Marina del Rey, dedicated in 1965. An earlier suburban enclave, Surfridge (part of Playa del Rey, developed in 1921 by Dickinson & Gillespie Co.), wiped out 300 acres of sand dunes that were home to the El Segundo Blue Butterfly, an endangered species. When LAX was built in the early 1960s, the airport took over Surfridge and razed the homes there—but not to restore the dunes. Instead, airport authorities bought the neighborhood to appease residents complaining of noise pollution and fenced it off without touching the dunes. Restoration would take another three decades to initiate and is ongoing today. On March 24, 1985, a methane gas leak caused a massive explosion in a Ross Dress-For-Less Department store in the Wilshire-Fairfax District of Los Angeles. Though the cause of the explosion remains the subject of debate, two Stanford professors argued in a 1992 paper that it was a product of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that is once again being debated in the city. In any case, the disaster prompted Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) ban on tunneling under Wilshire Boulevard, which in turn rerouted the subway’s Red Line. In recent years, Playa Vista, a giant development located just south of Marina del Rey, has been the site of a high-profile contest between architecture and ecology. The original plan for Playa Vista, initiated by Howard Hughes’ heirs after his death, would have destroyed 94 percent of the Ballona wetlands’ remaining acreage. After the plan was approved, the Friends of Ballona Wetlands filed a lawsuit. Following a period of inaction, the development was sold to Maguire Thomas Partners in 1990. The new developers agreed to rededicate a portion of the land to conservation and pay millions for restoration. Rounding out the list is the infamous Belmont Learning Center, now known as the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. The high school, the nation’s most expensive at over $400 million, was built on top of the Los Angeles City Oil Field. Concerns over methane gas below the site resulted in an almost 20-year delay in the building process. The revision of state and local policy regarding school construction, and the installation of a $17 million gas-mitigation system, allowed construction to go forward, with a completely new architectural plan. Operating the system costs the school, which finally opened in 2008, between $250,000 and $500,000 annually.
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.
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.