Coming at a crucial time in which Los Angeles is at risk of “losing its reputation as a center for innovative architecture,” museum director Michael Govan and Swiss architect Peter Zumthor have unveiled preliminary plans for what they hope will be the new home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). If approved, this $650 million proposal – nearly six years in the making – would replace the dated William Pereira-designed campus and its 1986 Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates-designed addition with an organically-shaped, energy efficient, dark-grey concrete and glass Zumthor original.
More information after the break, including Peter Zumthor’s project description…
Dubbed by Zumthor as the “Black Flower,” the new museum’s undulating facade will occupy over 700 feet along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile district. Unlike the LACMA’s current restricted and confusing “Byzantine maze of buildings and hallways,” Zumthor’s design would act as a user-based “village” of experiences with several access points and routes. Just as one would wander through a forest, as described by Zumthor, spectators will be welcomed from all sides of the building and encouraged to explore its contents via a route of their own choice.
As winding bicycle paths and walkways inhabit the landscape on the ground floor, the building’s main level will be hoisted more than 30 feet into the air atop seven separate “pods.” Each of these uniquely designed pods will contain a staircase and ground level storage capable of exhibiting its contents to the public 24/7 through illuminated floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Stretching towards the east, the structure will cantilever over the black pools of La Brea Tar Pits – a naturally occurring group of tar pits which make up Hancock Park – while to its west it will neighbor Renzo Piano‘s travertine-clad Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” installation. Its black roof will harvest the California sun through a series of skylights and one of the largest solar farms known in any urban environment that is capable of providing more energy that it consumes.
Peter Zumthor’s Project Statement:
The proposed building for LACMA is intended to have a unique urbanistic energy. It is big and stands apart from other buildings yet is completely integrated into its environment.
It is an organic shape, like a water lily, floating and open with 360 degrees of glass facing Hancock Park, the La Brea Tar Pits, Wilshire Boulevard, Chris Burden’s Urban Light, and Renzo Piano’s new galleries. Primary circulation is achieved by this curving perimeter—a continuous veranda rather than a classical Beaux-Arts spine. Visitors can look out; those outside can look in. From the ground, and in elevation, the museum is mostly transparent.
Formally, the design emphasizes Los Angeles and the western United States in its horizontality, re-exposing the sky that is now blocked by existing structures. A huge roof covered in solar tiles literally soaks up the energy of the California sun. The building gives more energy back to its neighbors than it takes from the city. It draws the Pacific Ocean breezes to cool its southern exposure.
The proposed building is intended to create a cultural and social place. It offers a multilayered understanding and experience—from the everyday life on the street to a peaceful appreciation of individual artworks. Around more “sacred” galleries are open, casual spaces. The grand scale of the organic whole is assembled from smaller pieces within, providing a village of experiences.
Govan and Zumthor hope to gain support for the project at the LACMA exhibition “The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA”, which starts June 9. More information can be found here.
Reference: LACMA, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthrone