Posts tagged with "LACMA":

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LACMA continues demolition of original buildings amid quarantine

While construction sites around the world have been paused in their tracks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has decided to move ahead with its plans to demolish its structures on the site to prepare for the addition designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, now estimated to cost a total of $750 million. “Los Angeles is counting on us, more than ever, to keep our construction going,” Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “Thousands of workers will be part of the project over the coming few years. LACMA will be an engine of job creation and economic recovery.” Construction barriers have been erected along the site over the last several months, while the four buildings in question—three designed by William Pereira as part of the original campus from 1965, and one designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1986 to would represent the facade of the museum along Wilshire—have slowly been emptied of their contents and internal walls. Hoping to not lose momentum, the team hopes to finish the process and begin demolition this month to meet its completion deadline in 2024. LACMA representative Jessica Youn has expressed that the construction team on site is following the necessary protective measures in keeping with an official statement from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) released on March 31 that reads: “Construction industry employers shall develop a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control plan, which includes control measures such as social distancing; symptom checking; hygiene; decontamination procedures, and training. An exposure control plan and the following practices must be followed to prevent any onsite worker from contracting COVID-19, as many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and can potentially spread disease.” Temporary hand-washing stations have recently been installed throughout the site for the benefit of its construction workers. Meanwhile, Twitter has been alight with opposition to the plan to proceed as scheduled. Residents have generally expressed discomfort with the thought of living near an active construction site, while the local nonprofit SAVE LACMA has regarded the decision as a misuse of funds in uncertain times. On the same block, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which announced December 14 as an official opening date only two months ago, has paused all construction until further notice.
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Ahmanson Foundation severs ties with LACMA over redevelopment

The banker and financier Howard F. Ahmanson has been synonymous with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) since the Ahmanson Foundation helped launch the museum’s move to a dedicated new home in 1965 (the institution spun off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1961). His foundation, established in 1952, has since donated over $130 million worth of European Old Master works—from the likes of artists including Jacques-Louis David, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Rembrandt van Rijn—and has shaped LACMA’s global identity as an encyclopedic institution that attracts over one million visitors annually. After providing support to LACMA for over a half century, the Ahmanson Foundation announced that it will discontinue gifting art to the museum. Foundation president and LACMA trustee William H. Ahmanson expressed that his foundation has not been properly informed about how the artwork it has donated will be exhibited in the Peter Zumthor-designed redevelopment of the museum campus when it is scheduled to open in 2024. “I’m disappointed because the new building does nothing for future growth and it’s going to limit how we collect as well as those who may want to donate collections,” Ahmanson told The Art Newspaper. After years of ambiguity on the subject, and given that the new building will have fewer square feet dedicated to gallery space than the four buildings it is replacing, it was discovered that more space will be dedicated to rotating exhibitions than the institution’s own permanent collection, much of which includes work donated to the museum by the Ahmanson Foundation. With a significant portion of the collection locked away in storage, in other words, the foundation reportedly saw little reason to continue donating artwork it feels should be proudly on display. According to the Los Angeles Times, LACMA director Michael Govan has responded by expressing that a misunderstanding had taken place, and that the new building will devote exhibition space to artwork donated by the organization. “We are immensely grateful for the Foundation’s long-standing generosity to LACMA,” he stated, “and look forward to featuring the gifts from the Ahmanson Foundation as soon as we have completed our new galleries, just four years from now.” While the Ahmanson Foundation‘s seminal relationship with the museum is coming to an end, other donors will be featured more prominently in the redevelopment, including film studio executive and philanthropist David Geffen, who pledged $150 million to the museum in 2017—the largest single cash gift from an individual in its history. LACMA has also compiled a series of videos of other supporters, including Dean of USC Architecture Milton Curry, British sculptor Thomas Houseago, and several Miracle Mile residents. Demolition of the original LACMA buildings is currently underway, leaving precious little time for activist organizations such as Save LACMA to stymie the museum’s plans for redevelopment.
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LACMA receives $50 million gift towards controversial campus rebuild

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has received a major donation in its effort to build a new campus designed by Peter Zumthor. The Los Angeles Times reported that a local charitable organization, the W.M. Keck Foundation, offered a $50 million pledge to the project this week, bringing the total commitments to $640 million out of the needed $750 million.  Robert A. Day, chief executive of the Keck Foundation, is a LACMA trustee and one of two board members to pledge millions of dollars to the plan in recent years. In 2016, Elaine Wynne of Wynne Resorts also pledged $50 million. With these two donations, alongside with the $150 million offered by David Geffen in 2017 and the $125 million recently released in taxpayer funds, LACMA still needs to raise another $110 million for the construction of the new building. Greg Goldin, a Los Angeles-based critic and architectural historian, heads up the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA. In a conversation with AN, he said the group was dismayed by the Keck Foundation’s choice to donate to the LACMA building fund. Goldin thinks it’s possible that the philanthropy organization doesn't know what it’s actually paying for. “We don’t know what the board of trustees at the Keck Foundation has seen versus what the public has seen in terms of visuals or building plans,” he said. “If they haven’t seen something other than the absurd renderings released to the world, then they’ve voted on this decision in complete darkness. They’re giving $50 million to what?”  AN reported earlier this month that demolition work—specifically abatement work—had begun on the downtown Los Angeles site despite the fact that fundraising for the project is not complete. Crews were photographed working on the exterior of the William Pereira-designed Ahmanson Building and preparing for asbestos removal. Over the last several months, debates have swirled over just how much the building project will end up costing LACMA and whether the reported $750 million will actually cover the final costs. Michael Govan, director of LACMA, has repeatedly bumped up the project’s price tag while dually decreasing the footprint of the gallery space within Zumthor’s new building.  As noted previously, fundraising efforts have been notoriously slow. In November, Christopher Knight of the L.A. Times argued that no one new in L.A. would pay for Govan’s “shortsighted” vision. Even though the Keck Foundation ended up pledging $50 million, Goldin isn’t confident the dollar figure signals LACMA’s rise from the proverbial financially-fraught ashes.  “The question is how much is it actually going to cost? According to history, the higher the cost of this project, the fewer square feet you’re going to get. Govan and LACMA will not release floor plans, the architectural drawings, or the cost estimates because they know full-well it will expose the truth that this project has gotten out of hand.” Govan told the L.A. Times that the institution will turn to the public to raise the rest of the money needed.  AN has reached out to the Keck Foundation for comment.
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Abatement sparks confusion over LACMA demolition

Contrary to earlier reports elsewhere, demolition work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hasn’t officially begun. Instead, the abatement process is underway with crews working to figure out best practices for removing asbestos and advancing environmental remediation at the site.  According to Save LACMA, the nonprofit responsible for the recent petition to stop the project, the actual tearing down of structures has yet to take place and could still be put on hold if LACMA doesn’t come up with enough money for the controversial new design. A specific timeline to demolish the four aging buildings in question—starting with the William Pereira-designed Ahmanson, Bing, and Hammer Buildings, all constructed in 1965, and the 115,000-square-foot Art of the Americas building from 1986 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates—has not been released. Images from local residents on Twitter show that workers have just started the gutting process by knocking a hole into the Ahmanson Building. Rob Hollman, director of Save LACMA, told AN that abatement could take months since the laws surrounding the exposure of hazardous materials are so strict in California. “It gives us more time to work on halting or slowing down the demolition as well as the opportunity to have LACMA and the County reconsider what they’re planning to do.”  Hollman and his team believe a key determinate of moving forward is based on a large discrepancy in how much the project will cost and how much the arts organization actually has in its pocket or can realistically fundraise. “LACMA has been carrying a $30 million deficit,” he said. “They will need to go back to the county to ask for more funds at some point and there’s a possibility that the county will freeze those funds. We believe if enough evidence is shown and critical public sentiment continues then we will have a real opportunity to have a greater discussion about the kind of shape LACMA is in.” In total, the megaproject is slated to cost the museum $650 million. Based on LACMA’s 990 Forms from 2012-2017, which AN accessed through GuideStar, Atelier Peter Zumthor, the lead design architect, was paid about $10.6 million already. Skidmore, Owings & Merill, brought in as consultants later in the process, were reportedly paid $10 million as well. More recently, the museum has spent $6 million in moving and storage of its assets ahead of anticipated demolition.  “That annual cost (for storage) will balloon exponentially over the next several years as this project continues,” said Hollman. “It also doesn’t account for the over $1 million a year that LACMA pays in office space across the street and we know there will be none in the new building, nor storage. The expenses are just going to skyrocket.” Last November, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight published findings that LACMA’s fundraising efforts for the project had stalled. He estimated that the museum, headed by director Michael Govan, likely had about $80 million left in the bank account for the building project. “Weak philanthropy,” as Knight said, isn’t the culprit when it comes to such a large financial discrepancy. 
“The new plan is to convert some of the permanent collection into temporary theme shows in a building that is actually smaller than what already exists—the Incredible Shrinking Museum—while outsourcing other parts of the LACMA collection to ill-defined future satellites to be scattered around the country. The distinctive value of encyclopedic collection, which brings global art together in one place, gets undermined. What has taken half a century of curatorial and philanthropic labor to assemble is about to be dissolved.” 
All that’s at sake sits upon a shakey system of cost estimation, according to Knight. For years, Govan and his team have been setting the fundraising goals and coming up short at the end of the tax year. In 2018, pledges came up $40 million short. This also explains why the project’s timeline keeps getting pushed back and is now set for completion in 2023. In his article, Knight argued the biggest issue is that no one in L.A. wants to pay for Govan’s “shortsighted” vision for LACMA.  Now that more information has been revealed on the museum’s money problems, Save LACMA and critics of the project are still aiming to get a measure placed on the next Los Angeles County ballot that would allow the community to vote on the Zumthor redesign and Govan’s plan. Though it’s technically a publicly-owned project, Hollman thinks the public has barely been involved and that there’s still time for a fight.  “We’ve never even seen the numbers related to renovating the buildings, especially the Pereira ones,” said Hollman. “These decisions have been made behind closed doors and, even though LACMA is benefiting from taxpayer dollars, there is little known about how much this is actually going to cost in the end.” Going ahead with demolition, Hollman believes, is a “bluff to motivate” people to give more money to a sinking ship.
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Keating designs luxury apartment tower for L.A.'s low-rise Miracle Mile

Los Angeles-based architecture firm Keating unveiled a $400 million luxury apartment tower for the east end of Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard, the famous street that boasts cultural institutions like LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, and the Peterson Automotive Museum. Set next door to the historic Sontag Drug Store building, 5411 Wilshire features a curvilinear design perched on a multi-story parking podium. The project is being developed by the Marks family which has owned the 84-year-old building since 1968. According to Keating, they decided to revamp the site and renovate the Sontag Drug Store ahead of the Purple line subway extension that's slated to open blocks away in 2023. “There are going to be a lot more people [in the neighborhood]," Walter N. Marks III told the Los Angeles Times. “Industry follows people, my grandfather used to say.” Standing 42 stories tall, the glassy 5411 Wilshire will include 371 units of luxury apartments, 56 of which will be set aside for affordable housing. Keating envisions the design of tower as a nod to the Art Deco-style luxury residential towers that can still be found a few miles east on Wilshire Boulevard. While most buildings in the neighborhood do not exceed 50 feet, the proposed tower would rise nearly 521 feet tall with a sky deck located at the very top. The residential complex will also feature 15,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail, along with a slew of other amenities. It will house a bowling alley, a VR gaming room, a golf simulator, a yoga studio, as well as a dog-grooming space, a demonstration kitchen, a wine-tasting counter, and a billiard room. Studio-MLA, led by landscape architect Mia Lehrer, will design a private garden set above the retail and parking space. Tenants will be able to drop their cars off at an automated valet system, located behind the building's main entrance in a nod to the spatial organization typical of buildings on Wilshire Boulevard. Keating will also revitalize the adjacent Sontag Drug Store—also an Art Deco structure—complete with its original signage, materials, windows, and awnings. A restaurant and café, as well as retail space, will outfit the interior. The Marks family aims to complete the renovation and construction by 2023.
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Vera Lutter to present camera obscura photos of LACMA before demolition

While the future of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) still hangs in the balance and a local nonprofit attempts to undermine its redevelopment at the ballot box next year, New York-based artist Vera Lutter has been quietly documenting the campus in its current state over the last two years. A selection of her photographs will soon be on display in the Resnick Pavilion, one of two Renzo Piano-designed gallery spaces on the LACMA site set to be saved from the wrecking ball. Lutter was invited to work in residence at the museum from February 2017 to January 2019 in order to create Museum in the Camera, her new body of photographic work focusing on the original campus architecture, gallery spaces, and individual pieces. To produce her photography, Lutter used a camera obscura, a box with a small hole on one side that filters light through its hollow interior to project an image onto film hanging on the opposite side. As one of the oldest optical technologies ever developed (first described in the 4th century BC), the camera obscura and the images it made under Lutter's careful watch turn the original LACMA campus into what looks like a centuries-old historical site. The project was sparked by an early working relationship between Lutter and LACMA director Michael Govan while he was serving as director of Dia:Beacon in New York. Throughout Lutter's LACMA residency, the artist's room-sized camera obscura was craned around the campus while being as minimally-obtrusive as possible. "Moving a camera for Vera Lutter is a very big deal," explained Govan. "Museums aren't [usually] so welcoming to giant wooden boxes." The conversations between Lutter and Govan resulted in work that seeks to document the four LACMA buildings set to be demolished in 2020: the three original 1965 structures by modernist architect William Pereira, and a street-front building erected in 1986 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. Museum in the Camera will be on view from March 29th to July 19, 2020.
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LACMA redesign could be undermined by local nonprofit

It should come as little surprise that Peter Zumthor's proposed design for the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is continuing to inspire debate. The decision to replace the museum's original, 54-year-old buildings with an amorphous blob (containing 10,000 square feet less gallery space than its predecessors) has been widely criticized by critics and the public alike. Save LACMA, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established this year, is doing everything within its power to undermine the approval the project has received from the Los Angeles City Council. “If completed,” the group explained, “it will turn our beloved County Museum of Art into a shadow of its former self, a physically smaller institution burdened by a heavy debt load.” This month, Save LACMA board chair Rob Hollman sent out an email stating that the nonprofit has updated plans of its own. “We are very happy to announce,” it reads, “that Save LACMA has retained the services of Bradley Hertz and the Sutton Law Firm to help guide us through our efforts to ensure that our LACMA—a public institution on public land with a priceless collection of publicly-owned artwork—will remain accountable to the community.” Both Hertz and Sutton specialize in nonprofits involved in political and legislative processes on the local and state levels, and the two seem particularly suited to the mission of Save LACMA as the group claims its goal reflects the interests of Los Angeles residents. The members of Save LACMA are now considering Hertz's suggestion of placing a measure onto the next Los Angeles County ballot that would give the community “A real chance to have a say in its future when they cast their vote.” The nonprofit is currently seeking donations to pay for associated legal fees while continuing its goal of ensuring the community's collective voice is heard throughout the museum campus's renovation process. While the details of the potential ballot initiative are still being determined, time to alter the project's future is running out. Demolition of the original buildings is set to begin early next year, and its developers anticipate that Zumthor's new design will be complete by 2023.
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Controversial street-spanning element of LACMA redesign approved

However controversial Peter Zumthor’s redesign of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) may be to the general public, the L.A. City Council has a track record of unanimously siding with the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and the museum. Though the majority of the building’s elements have already been approved during the multi-year design phase, a City Council vote on December 3 officially gave permission for the project to span over Wilshire Boulevard, allowing the design’s most ambitious feature to remain intact, according to City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. LACMA director Michael Govan, as well as Councilmembers David Ryu and Herb Wesson Jr., additionally expressed their interests in preserving the design for the museum as is. Govan has commented that, in its current form, the design is more open and contextually-sensitive than its predecessor, while spanning over Wilshire to connect to the Purple Line station that is set to be completed in 2023. Ryu commented that the proposed design will ensure LACMA remains a symbol for the city and “a showcase for the world to see and enjoy.” Several speakers at City Hall, however, expressed concerns with the current proposal. The $117 million the county is awarding to the project, the potential safety issues associated with the portion of the building spanning Wilshire Boulevard, as well as the fact that much of the plan was not adequately disclosed to the public during the schematic design phase, have been the subjects of recent criticism. LACMA responded to these are other public concerns in their FAQ, stating that “the environmental impact review has shown that the crossing poses no hazards to motorists, traffic patterns, or pedestrians,” and that “without the new building, the County would be facing a minimum of $246 million in basic repairs for the aging buildings.” Construction is set to begin early next year, coinciding with the opening of the adjacent Renzo Piano-designed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and is scheduled to be completed in 2023 in coordination with the completion of the new Metro station across the street.
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Do Ho Suh’s New York apartment replica gifted to LACMA

An anonymous donor has gifted one of New York-based artist Do Ho Suh's large-scale sculptures to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The piece, 348 West 22nd Street (2011-2015), is a full-scale fabric replica of two adjacent ground floor units in a low-rise Chelsea apartment the artist rented for nineteen years during his early career. It's in the same vein as The Perfect Home II, another exploration of the same space that closed out a run earlier this year at the Brooklyn Museum. Suh used translucent polyester thread, wiring, and a steel frame to recreate the features of his former apartment building in excruciating detail, down to the curvature of the bathroom tiles and the lettering on the kitchen oven. The two apartment units, shared corridor, and staircase are each rendered in vibrant blocks of color that help distinguish them as visitors look through the translucent surfaces. To create the sculpture, Suh matched digital mapping tools with traditional Korean sewing techniques over the course of four years. The translucency and gentle sagging that many of the elements face under the weight of their materials remind the viewer that the sculpture is only a ghostly copy of the original, the full details of which are surrendered to memory loss. “The whole process,” Suh commented, “is to remember the space, and also to somehow memorialize the space.” Throughout his career, Suh has made full-scale recreations of spaces he has previously occupied in Seoul, Providence, London and New York using fabric, paper, and other fragile materials to symbolize the ephemerality of the places we build our lives. 348 West 22nd Street is now on display in the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA with no closing date set.
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LACMA Lovers League starts petition to pause Zumthor's new building

A new petition on is calling for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to reconsider its unanimous vote to certify the final environmental impact report (FEIR) to raze and build over much of the historic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) complex. Started by a group called the LACMA Lovers League, the appeal urges those against the county’s decision to sign in support of halting the FEIR and encourage leadership to engage in a more open discussion with the community. Since the release of the report in March, the Peter Zumthordesigned plan for the site has garnered even more widespread criticism because, in order to achieve it, the existing 54-year-old complex by modernist architect William L. Pereira, would need to be demolished. It would also effectively diminish the space reserved for the museum’s permanent collection and take away room for libraries and conservation facilities. Overall, the $650 million proposal, which was updated with new renderings in late April, is “not a suitable replacement,” AN’s West Coast editor wrote in an earlier review. Originally, Zumthor’s vision referenced a splash of oil—it was an amorphous black canopy that spanned Wilshire Boulevard. Now, it’s lighter, more airy, and shorter in height. Still, critics have been skeptical—as AN's editor put it, it’s “just plain bad.” Despite a massive outcry from both the public and leaders in the fields of art and architecture, the decision to approve the environmental report was made on April 9 in a 5-0 vote. In moving forward with the redevelopment project, supervisors also granted $117.5 million in public funding. According to the petition, this outright approval was inconsiderate both to the historic integrity of L.A.’s cultural heritage, but also to the many voices that expressed serious and immediate concern: “In doing so,” reads the petitions, “[the L.A. County Board of Supervisors] ignored recent criticism published by the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Curbed LA,  Architectural Record, The Art Newspaper and The Architect’s Newspaper, and hundreds of public comments running 83% against the project.” At the time of publication, the petition had gathered 11 signatures.
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New batch of renderings for Zumthor’s LACMA proposal unveiled

Just a few weeks after receiving formal approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Atelier Peter Zumthor has unveiled a new batch of renderings for its contentious plan to remake the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA) campus. Urbanize.LA first reported the latest renderings Tuesday afternoon. The new images depict the oil stain–inspired complex in a similar level of detail as previous images released for the project, and provide little new information in terms of the potential interior layout of the elevated galleries, the ways in which the complex will meet the ground, or the spatial and urban qualities of the underpass areas to be created when the complex spans Wilshire Boulevard. The images depict a more polished view of what has already been unveiled, however, including new views of the gallery spaces. According to the renderings, the new continuous galleries that will house the museum’s permanent collections will sit on an elevated platform lifted off the ground by a series of thick piers, with each pier containing circulation spaces and other forms of programming, including an auditorium on the southernmost parcel of the site. The renderings show sleek floor-to-ceiling glass walls wrapping the outermost layers of the proposed building. The galleries are shown sandwiched between thick, monolithic concrete floor and roof plates, with the building’s large, flat roof shown projecting beyond the walls to create a shading overhang. The renderings also depict Tony Smith’s Smoke sculpture, currently located on the ground level of the existing William L. Pereira–designed complex that will be demolished to make way for the new design, tucked underneath the new elevated galleries. The views of the galleries show discrete concrete-walled rooms filled with an eclectic mix of permanent collection items in spaces framed by black terrazzo floors and concrete ceilings studded with golden spotlights. The renderings come as LACMA prepares to put detailed models and plans for the project on public display for the first time in coming weeks.
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LACMA proposal moves forward despite fierce opposition

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve an environmental review report for a controversial plan by Peter Zumthor for a new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus.

The vote propels the plan one step closer to reality and effectively paves the way for an existing complex designed by William L. Pereira & Associates and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates  (HHPA) to be demolished.

By a 5-0 vote, the supervisors voted to grant the project $117.5 million in public funding so that the project can move forward. The vote came during a star-studded public comment period that included cameos from Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton, as well as from several prominent local architects and artists.

The approval follows several weeks of critical outcry, including from AN, focused on the perceived inadequacies of the Zumthor plan.

Critics have argued that the proposal shrinks the amount of overall space dedicated to the museum’s permanent collection, eliminates necessary libraries and conservation facilities, and that the scheme was conceived largely behind closed doors. Boosters for the project highlight the development’s potential to create a new architectural landmark for the region. Many of the speakers for the proposal at the meeting, including several of the supervisors themselves, supported another LACMA plan to bring a collection of satellite campuses to sites dispersed around LA County. 

The vote is the latest chapter in a long-running saga to expand the museum. Previous designs by other international architecture firms, most notably OMA, have come and gone over the years. With the latest approval, however, it appears momentum has finally reached a critical mass for the project.

Detailed plans and a scale model are slated to go on display at LACMA for public viewing in coming weeks.