When The Broad opens to the public on September 20, Angelenos will finally get to see how Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design compliments philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad’s powerhouse collection of 2,000 pieces of contemporary art in their eponymous museum. Works by Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman will hang in the 35,000-square-foot, column-free gallery space lit by some 300 skylights. Expectations are high for the $140 million dollar building, but from what we’ve seen and heard, the architecture is refined and detail-oriented. Or, as DS+R architect Kevin Rice said of Eli Broad, “I’ve never worked with another billionaire so interested in bathroom fixtures.” While the opening of a new building is always a thrill, AN has been tracking this feat of design, engineering, and curatorial might almost since its inception and we thought we’d share some of the highlights along the way. Q+A> KEVIN RICE Architectural journalist Sam Lubell spoke with DS+R's Kevin Rice and got a behind-the-scenes preview of the museum. He asked Rice about design goals for the adjacent public space. “The last thing we wanted was another dead corporate plaza that gets filled at lunchtime and has tumbleweeds flying around the rest of the time,” said Rice. “We wanted something that people would want to come back to throughout the day.” Q+A> BROAD ART FOUNDATION DIRECTOR TALKS ARCHITECTURE, OPENING DATE FOR DS+R’S LOS ANGELES MUSEUM Late last year, AN talked with Broad Art Foundation Director Joanne Heyler to learn how the arts community was reacting to the new architecture. “The building is very sculptural because the Vault form [which contains the museum’s collection] creates the heart of the building,” said Heyler. “I’ve taken artists to see the collection inside and gotten an incredibly enthusiastic response.” COMMENT: ARCHITECTURE IS NOT ENOUGH AT GRAND AVENUE “No amount of architecture will transform Bunker Hill,” said architecture critic and curator Greg Goldin in his comment that drew attention to the lackluster urban condition along Grand Avenue. While Eli Broad has an ambition to make the street into a boulevard, Goldin questions redevelopment efforts going back decades that have wiped out topography and displaced population. “Broad’s obsession with having architects strut their stuff has obscured the need for a considered response to the city itself—with varied program and a welcoming streetscape—not one street-top civic center,” he wrote. HERE’S REM KOOLHAAS’ “FLOATING” RUNNER-UP PROPOSAL FOR LOS ANGELES’ BROAD MUSEUM Lastly, why not show OMA’s similar, but not winning proposal? Rem Koolhaas’s firm proposed a “floating” box covered in a lacy-patterned metal screen and cantilevered via steel brace frames above Grand Avenue.
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Earlier this year AN's Eavesdrop column predicted the shortlist for Wilshire Boulevard Temple's "Gathering Place," a 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution's sanctuary. The final list has been revealed and includes big hitters such as OMA, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The only firm we didn't predict was Holl (we had Renzo Piano taking the fourth spot). According to the temple, the New York Times prematurely crowned OMA as the winner. "These things often leak but don’t always get reported accurately," said Temple spokesperson Susan Gordon. The announcement of the winning team is still "weeks away," said Gordon. Members of the selection committee include Erika Glazer, Eli Broad, Tony Pritzker, Dana Hutt, and Richard Koshalek. Meanwhile the temple—which is following an ambitious master plan— has already begun construction on the renovation of two school buildings, its Karsh Social Service Center, a rooftop athletic facilities, and a new landscaped walking path. Stay tuned for more.
Rarely has the removal of a building's scaffolding caused as much hubbub as when Diller Scofidio + Renfro's The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles removed its temporary covering on December 31, revealing its "Veil," composed of 2,500 fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels. Those panels, you may remember, are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against fabricator Seele. Unfortunately for the museum, which will open this fall, much of the media reaction (admittedly not the best indicator of public opinion) has been lukewarm. The Los Angeles Times likened the veil to a cheese grater and called responses to it "less than ecstatic;" Curbed LA announced that the museum had revealed its "newly disappointing facade," emphasizing how much clunkier it looked than the elegant renderings; and LAist compared its indented "Oculus" to the "Eye of Sauron" from Lord of the Rings. Of course, minds could easily change once the museum is running and full of art (and people). Stay tuned. This thing has to open eventually, right? And so you get to see more than the flat, frontal view, here are some new angles, below.
In a recent interview, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Senior Associate Kevin Rice told AN that the "veil" at Los Angeles' Broad Museum—a facade made of hundreds of molded Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels, had been delayed by over a year. "Some of the things took longer to make than they thought, but there aren’t really problems with it," Rice said. But now it looks like the issues with the museum's facade are more severe than initially thought. The LA Times has reported that the Broad Collection and contractor Matt Construction are suing Seele, the engineer of that facade, seeking $19.8 million in damages relating to the delay. Other damages, according to the complaint (PDF), include breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and fraud and deceit. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Seele "violated the important 'aesthetic aspect' of the architect's design," and its mockups were "unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project." As a result the firm was not able to meet its October, 2013 deadline to design, fabricate, and install the facade, setting the project's timeline way back. The Broad's lawsuit also names Zurich American Insurance Company and Fidelity and Deposit Company—backers of a bond guaranteeing Seele's work—as defendants. "Seele did not possess the necessary skill, experience, resources, commitment or ability to perform the work at The Broad museum," the complaint stated. Broad Foundation spokesperson Karen Denne told AN, "we're not commenting—the lawsuit speaks for itself." As of now the museum is still set to open in 2015, but the exact date remains up in the air.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro's concrete-veiled Los Angeles art museum and its accompanying plaza, The Broad, named for the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad who commissioned it, continue to rise in downtown. Meanwhile, across the street, Broad's longtime project, MOCA, struggles to find its footing. Addressing these two projects, Broad sat down with Los Angeles Magazine, giving an unusually candid interview about the state of the city, his own giving, and much more. Here are some of his most revealing quotes from a man who, this time, departed from his usual tactic of sticking to talking points. "Right now Los Angeles needs a lot of things. It needs better political leadership and better citizen and corporate leadership than it’s had." "I don’t mean to brag, but in Los Angeles I don’t see anyone who has stepped forward to do the number of things that I’ve done." "With regards to Disney Hall, Frank Gehry had a contract as a design architect. He wasn’t supposed to get involved in construction. When I got involved, I had some ideas that Frank didn’t like. But we’re great friends now." "We took a chance on Jeffrey Deitch [at MOCA]. He’s a populist. He did several great shows, like Art in the Streets. He created MOCAtv. But he didn’t have the stomach, frankly, to deal with trustees or raise money or do other things. He was not a manager." "We had a lot of old trustees on the board (at MOCA) who give nothing and create a lot of problems. Four or five of the old trustees didn’t give anything to this campaign for the endowment, but they have no problem talking to the press and complaining. "We (Broad and his wife Edye) want to finish all our work within ten years after our demise. We don’t believe in having a foundation that’s around 50 years from now that has no idea of what the founders wanted done." "Oh, yeah. We’re accelerating our investment."
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.
The Grand, the multi-million-dollar, mixed use project on top of LA’s Bunker Hill, is finally… slowly… moving forward with an Arquitectonica-designed residential tower, which just broke ground. But it appears that Frank Gehry’s days on the project may be numbered. After a recent call with Related, we got no assurances that the starchitect was still part of the project. A report in the Downtown News got similarly uncommitted answers. Just across the street from the Grand we hear that The Broad (what’s with all the THEs?)—Eli Broad’s multi-million-dollar art museum—is getting ready to add an upscale market to its rear, just above the parking lot. If it’s even close to as successful as Chelsea Market in New York, Downtown LA could have yet another hit on its hands. Meanwhile, decking is being laid for a new park to The Broad’s south, but still no renderings of the park have been unveiled. Let’s make this public, Mr. Broad. We can’t wait to see your plans, which could single-handedly make or break Grand Avenue.
Next Tuesday, January 8, The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles (not that Broad Museum), Eli Broad's new contemporary art museum with an arresting net-like "veil" facade by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will top out at the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street. The project is set to open next year and will contain 120,000-square-feet over three-levels, including 50,000 square feet of gallery space on two floors, a lecture hall for up to 200 people, a public lobby with display space and a museum shop. As usual, the topping-out ceremony will include a theatrical event: in this case, the "flying of the beam," in which a 294-foot crane lifts the final steel beam to the top of the structure. (In the meantime, take a fly-through of the new building in this video rendering.) In addition to Broad and DS+R, others on hand will be LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as well as 100 construction workers for the project. You can watch a live construction cam of the project here. AN also learned that Related California will break ground on its new Arquitectonica-designed apartment tower on January 10, just two days after the Broad event. The 19-story building is the first major piece of the long-delayed Grand Avenue project. No more details on the event, but there are sure to be some fancy shovels and some bigwigs on hand. That's some heavy symbolism for the transformation of downtown's long-troubled Grand Avenue. Yes, it's really happening.
When Diller Scofidio + Renfro were solicited last June by Eli Broad to sketch an idea for his new archive and museum, the architects were forced to ask: “What do you build next to Disney Hall?” Answer: Something else. Where Frank Gehry’s work is smooth and impenetrable, the Broad Art Foundation is porous and accessible. The stainless steel concert hall reflects the city’s skyline; blinding sunlight bounces off its capering shell. The Broad’s concrete veil, by contrast, is a less aggressive spectacle. At three-feet thick, and punched through with large angular openings, the new museum looks as if it is cloaked in an ice cube tray twisted by a powerful algorithm. As, certainly, it has been, to pleasing effect. Over time the animated, if a bit too-tidy white box, with its dramatic, carved out entryway – a quote of Diller’s earlier Alice Tully Hall – will settle onto Grand Avenue, a signature building poised not so much to duke it out with Disney as to hold firmly its own ground. The trouble here is that everyone – architects, planners, civic officials, and developers – is convinced that if you plant the right number of monuments on Grand Avenue, the street will become, as Eli Broad says, “the Champs Elysees of Los Angeles.” What they’re looking for is a sidewalk lined by masterpieces. No amount of architecture will transform Bunker Hill – the nation’s longest-running redevelopment project (some would say scam). Broad’s obsession with having architects strut their stuff has obscured the need for a considered response to the city itself— with varied program and a welcoming streetscape—not one street-top civic center. This is not to argue for provincial architecture. But it might be helpful if what goes up on Grand Avenue were considered in its rightful place and not as some moon-shot projectile intended to rescue or restore or resuscitate a barren landscape. For starters, the hill itself is – as it has been elsewhere – trampled, converted into a 3-story garage, as if the slope were actually flat. Why have the architects decided to essentially level a site that drops 200 feet from front to back? An inner truth – not to mention a particular history of human occupancy – resides in this steep hillside, yet the topography is buried. Does this geography communicate no ideas that might be captured in a building and, ultimately, speak to the city at large? And if Los Angeles is truly the center of contemporary art – as Broad and others argued at the unveiling of the museum’s design – why doesn’t the new building reach for a language that breathes the gritty, somewhat toxic perfume that spurs art here. As it is conceived, the Broad is a pleasant museum, with an admirable lobby, an exciting gallery space, and an eye-catching skin, suited to any philanthropist with $130 million to spare. As usual, Los Angeles gets the architecture of anywhere, leaving us to wonder where our city really is and who has the guts to confront it.
Yesterday, Sam Lubell detailed The Broad Foundation's much-anticipated LA museum complete with all the renderings. Now, we have a video fly-through of the new Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed space and isn't it something! You can really start to appreciate the porous nature of The Broad's structural concrete "veil" and the views inside and out it will offer. You also gain a sense of its street presence sitting alongside Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, which appears rather large in comparison. What do you think? [ Video courtesy Broad Foundation. ]
Finally. The design for Eli Broad's new contemporary art museum in Downtown LA, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is being unveiled on Thursday, according to a press release sent out today. The event will take place at 11:00 am at Walt Disney Concert Hall (next to the new museum site), giving us lazy journalists plenty of time to make it. According to the release, the museum will be "home to the worldwide headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation," and will provide a home for Broad's collection of more than 2,000 works by 200 artists. Since the museum saga has dragged out over several years between several cities, and because he's hired one of the country's top architects, Mr. Broad has done an excellent job of building our expectations. Hope it's good!
The Daily Beast features a very interesting article about LA's "Culture King" Eli Broad. The writer, LA Weekly's Tom Christie, details Broad's incredible spending spree on culture (not to mention on education and science), from the Broad Stage in Santa Monica to his new museum downtown, putting him in the company of other legendary—and, um, challenging— LA philanthropists like Norton Simon and J. Paul Getty. While art world figures like Michael Govan take their shots, few architects appear willing to talk on record about the intrusive client (Broad calls himself "strong willed" in the story). But one of them is Thom Mayne, who doesn't pull many punches, although in the end seems to have an affinity for Broad. As for their failed partnership on the downtown museum, Mayne gets in a little dig: "We worked for a while, and we just reached a mutual understanding that we weren’t going to work together… It’s my city, and I didn’t want to produce a building I wasn’t proud of.”. Another revealing tidbit “I think he’s crazy as a loon half the time, and I don’t agree with him. But I have great admiration for him, and I actually like him.” For his part Broad gets in a slap at those who criticize his style: “Why don’t they join in the L.A. cultural life, rather than [sit] back and [offer] commentary?”