Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Opens


The 32,000 sqf Holocaust Museum, designed by Belzberg Architects, has just opened.  Sitting across from the Holocaust Memorial, the museum is the new face of the LAMH, the United States’ oldest holocaust museum which dates back to 1962.  To the unknowing passerby, one may not even notice the museum as Belzberg has decided to bury the museum underground – a move that not only preserves the parkland above but also creates a dynamic circulation route bringing people beneath the earth to remember those who experienced the Holocaust.

More images and more about the museum after the break.

© Belzberg Architects

Similar to Leibeskind’s Musuem, the LA Holocaust Musuem focuses on evoking intense emotions.  Lowered ceiling heights, sloping raw concrete walls, forced perspectives and carefully articulated circulation fuse to create a building that Hagy Belzberg says “is going to provide some discomfort,” reports Sam Lubell for the Architect’s Newspaper.

© Belzberg Architects

Playing with compression and darkness, the inner spaces are lit from faint streams of natural light from above.   As the museum depicts the beginning tales of the Holocaust, and eventually moves toward stories of the concentration camp, the impact of the dark and cramped spaces strengthens the architectural impact.  At the end of the journey, “ the stories of hope and liberation are detailed, the visitor turns a corner and returns to the light” added Lubell.

© Belzberg Architects

As seen on Inhabitat and Architect’s Newspaper.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Opens" 21 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=83131>
  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    Very nice for me… I like this type of concrete work…

  • architect

    Typically american ,Without any concern about anything but form. It looks like prada shop.It seem like they’ve learned about holocaust only from fancy american movies.Disaster.

    • Rdeam

      thats a bit harsh.. it is pretty hard to tell what it looks like from only these photos..But it certainly doesnt look great from these photos

    • Alfred E. Neuman

      What, Me worry?

    • renny

      I think for any site in Los Angeles it would be difficult to relate to any context as it would seem that Los Angeles has very little. There is no site plan but what I can see from the images of this project the context is a parking lot (totally LA) and a park of some kind. Not really sure how you connect to that kind of context. That in mind, I think the architects of this project have done something interesting, photography aside.

      • san

        you´re missing the point – in this case it´s not about relating to the built environment but to the programme. I totally agree with “architect” here: a holocaust memorial shouldn´t look like a high-fashion showroom

  • MZ

    without reflecting much on the (otherwise impressing and well detailed) architecture and thus risking to be “off topic”, I was somewhat surprised to learn, that LA has a holocaust museum.

    Living in Germany, (and general in Middle-Europe, for that matter) it is a very important issue to learn and educate about this dark and horrible chapter in 20th century european history. Museums, memorials and exhibits on original sights are important to show what happened and to make sure it never happens again. Especially in Germany and Poland, on original sights of concentration camps, where artifacts and ruins of buildings remain, it can be very plastic and graphic to make such a museum. But what are the exhibited articles in the US? Maybe the memories and belongings of some lucky survivors? Isn´t it more of an education center as a museum? Or did I miss something and was actually a holocaust in the US? …maybe against japanese people? Wasn´t slavery a bigger issue, with an impact on the society, which last until today? With all the respect on the millions of offers and their remaining relatives (I know personally a few myself…) it comes a little out of context for me. It makes seem the building more of a special-effects-show, looking for publicity and fame, as a meaningless repetition of Libeskind´s museum in Berlin, thus not authentic. Sorry, maybe I don´t have enough information and am wrong, it was just my first impression, reading this article.

    • Booh

      I suppose you are right in a sense. But yes. There were terrible things happening in the U.S. as well. Honestly, I don’t think many museums or history books like to highlight the racial crimes that we committed against the Japanese during that era. But, I think the bigger point is– I think the major point is the Holocaust effected people all over the world. Just because the United States didn’t have “sites” that were relevant doesn’t mean that people feel connected or concerned about the event. There are many Holocaust Museums in the United States, we are a country that… seems to really like Museums… I suppose it’s a cultural thing. I totally agree with your notion that making a building for the sake of making something strange/artistic/architectural is a little silly… but in this case I think it’s mostly the fact that people respect the history of the event… no matter where they are or came from. And I think that’s the most important and relevant explanation to your comment.

    • squaredrive


      In the US there are many millions of Jews, many people who were directly impacted or whose ancestors were directly impacted by the holocaust, (Especially in NY and LA) many who arrived in the US because of the holocaust, and many more Jews and non-Jews who gave their lives in one way or another serving the country as the US fought directly or indirectly against the holocaust. I don’t know what is exhibited, but I would guess it’s a place for people to reflect on this collective history and to understand its origin.

      Maybe your comments are directed at the architecture, but I can guarantee that the people who funded this building don’t think of it as a “special-effects-show, looking for publicity and fame.”

      The Japanese and Slavery issues are separate and there are other places for reflection on those issues within the US. I don’t think an argument about which issue has a larger impact on American society is really relevant.

  • Architect quad

    the exterior sorts of blends with d environment,,,nice work,,,,@ least it doesnt ‘just stand alone without a recongnition of the environment it exist,,,,,d inside tho looks,,,,,,,bt nice work,

  • simon

    Very impressed with Booh and MZ.


    This thing is way too redolent of stylized form-making; i.e. prescribed.

    If the mandate is to create place for such awful events, the mandate then becomes finding a relevant shared form language. No matter if Southern CA or wherever.

    No way no how does the built prototype justify on these terms.

    • ZNB

      couldn’t figure out how to post a comment, so i replyed this one…

      political and social aspects aside, i think the “plastic” look of the building does not reflect anything that could report us to an environment such as the holocaust… white concrete! bright luminous surfaces! lovely green grass! “rounded” spaces…

      (apollogies for my english)

  • bLogHouse

    You will be even more surprised to learn that there are 4 Holocaust and Holocaust related museums in LA. In the US there are more Holocaust museums than in Europe and Israel combined. According to Phillip Greenspan,a Jewish lawyer and author from NY, there are more than a 100 such museums in the US. To explain this with the American love for museums is simply laughable. How would you explain then the fact that there is not one, not as a building anyway, museum of the Native American genocide – an atrocity that “in terms of the sheer numbers killed, ……. exceeds that the Holocaust” ( according to David Cesarani, a Holocaust expert.)?

    • Brad

      Because Native Americans nowadays are on the whole quire poor, and their cultures were destroyed more thoroughly…

      America is a capitalist country. Capitalism gives people what they want, not what they need. If people have money to make a museum (and enough objects/ideas to fill it), so be it.

      And yes, the population of Jewish people in the US has something to do with it. Ths US and Israel probably have equal numbers of Jews now, but until recently the US had more. And since many of those Jews came from where the Holocaust was concentrated…hopefully you see the point I am making.

  • Sam

    Is it possible to stop construction of such buildings, which is a lie, Jews persuaded the world of it.
    Do not you see, not hear, that the Arabs are being killed day and night …. There is no building sees the world the size of this tragedy.

    Architecture serves Human ….. Do not make it serve the financial interests.

    • biboarchitect

      i believe its enough of jewish Holocaust museums!!!! its better to have more museums about Iraqi holocausts, Afghan Holocausts, Bosnia Holocausts…

      What LA has to do with Holocausts????

  • jo

    Well Said MZ.

    Sam, the holocaust did happen, it is a gross act of racism to deny this.

    Maybe, first I should say I’m in the UK so I’m not ignoring the fact that history shows Britain has invaded many countries and persecuted many races too.
    Secondly, I also have a degree in Museum and Exhibition Design and partly work as an exhibition designer so have a reasonably good knowledge of how different countries around the world choose to present history.

    Bloghouse, I am VERY surprised to learn that Los Angeles has 4 holocaust museums. Surely this polarises the significance and horrific subject matter. Sounds like the subject must be a lucrative tourist attraction that can be reinvented, restyled and repackaged, becoming ever more palatable but less and less educational. Style over substance. I like the look of the building but feel that it is very insensitive of the subject matter. It is reminiscent of the secret Nazi concrete bunkers. If anybody visits London, I suggest you go to the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust exhibition. It is the only holocaust exhibition in the UK. It probably cost a lot less than it’s LA counterparts but it has one very clear message: the holocaust must never happen again.

    As Mies van der Rohe said “form follows function”, museum designers have a similar responsibility: form follows facts.

    • bLogHouse

      to be precise – there are 2 museums, 1 institute and 1 memorial in LA, dedicated to the Holocaust.
      And yes, the subject is a lucrative enterprise, although in somewhat different sense than the one you mean.
      You are wrong about the only Holocaust exhibition in UK. Besides London, you’ve got one more in North Nottinghamshire.

    • Sam
  • architect

    the berlin jewish museum looks like it has more sense of purpose compared to this

  • Sudersan

    seems like its been influenced by Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum.! Like that one better! Seemed a lot more profound than this one..! And like someone mentioned, seems more like a upmarket brand store! From the pictures above, i don’t know if one can relate to the “raw” feel!