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."
Posts tagged with "Page Museum":
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.