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Diller Scofidio Wins Broad Support for LA Museum
Philanthropist picks New York firm to design downtown arts complex on Grand Avenue
The Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, Diller Scofidio + Renfro's first major museum commission.

After months—make that years—of speculation, philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad has confirmed the selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to design his new museum, which will be located on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. The $80 to $100 million 2nd Street project will be located across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art. It would include art from Broad’s 2,000-piece collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst.

The Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers authority between the County of Los Angeles and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, approved the project today, and Broad made his announcement shortly thereafter.

"They bring a very special energy to the city, and to the art world," said Richard Koshalek, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and one of Broad's informal advisors, of DS+R. Others counseling Broad on architecture have included journalist Joseph Giovannini, consultant Marcy Goodwin and even Frank Gehry. DS+R has been busy in California recently, having been selected to design the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and having made the shortlist for the SFMOMA expansion. DS+R has completed a number of cultural projects including the Lincoln Center redevelopment in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and a large inflatable expansion to the Hirshhorn that is under development.

Speculation over the project has been ongoing since Broad first raised the possibility of a museum near Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills in 2008. Since then Broad has also strongly hinted that he might located the project in Santa Monica, between the Santa Monica Courthouse and Civic Auditorium.

The final downtown location, which AN revealed in March, became even clearer after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last week approved the lease of the 2.5 acre site—which was to be part of the now-stalled Grand Avenue Project— to Broad for $7.7 million over the course of a 99-year-lease, according to City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky’s web site. The site also says that Broad will set up a $200 million endowment to run the museum. Calls to the Broad Foundation have thus far been unreturned.

While the multi-billion dollar Grand Avenue project remains in limbo, Grand Avenue itself has become an architectural spectacle, with works by Coop Himmelb(l)au, Gehry, DS+R, Arata Isozaki, Rafael Moneo, and others. 

Sam Lubell