After years of nomadic existence LA’s A+D Museum, created in 2001 to “celebrate and promote an awareness of architecture and design,” is finally getting its own home, at 6032 Wilshire Boulevard, right across the street from the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) on LA’s Museum Row. The museum signed a six-year lease (with an additional five-year option) for its ground-floor space on April 17, and plans to occupy it in September. It left its former location on 5900 Wilshire—about two blocks east of the new space—on April 20.
Since its founding the A+D has bounced around LA, occupying locations donated by philanthropists like developer Ira Yellin, who gave the museum its first facility in Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building in 2001. It then moved to Santa Monica (2003), to West Hollywood (2003-2005), and finally to its most recent location in Miracle Mile (2006-2009), a large space donated by developer Wayne Ratkovich.
The new venue is on the ground floor of a small midcentury office building, and will be fronted by large storefront windows and bright signage that will welcome the public more immediately than the museum’s most recent, set-back site. Design work for the raw, minimal space will be donated by Richard Meier & Partners and by Gensler. The builder has not yet been determined. Once the buildout is complete the museum will measure 4,800 square feet, including a 3,500-square-foot main gallery as well as room for offices, conference rooms, and project storage.
"We see this as our next big step,” said A+D’s president, the architect Stephen Kanner, who stressed the museum’s desire all along to stay in the Museum Row area, near major museums like the LA County Museum of Art, BCAM, the La Brea Tar Pits, and the California Craft & Folk Museum. “This will allow us to have a broader outreach and to have more shows because of the new stable location,” he said. Kanner added that the museum has been fundraising through top architects and designers in the city over the last nine months. The museum will announce several top donors at its fall fundraiser, he added.
Over the years the museum has hosted exhibitions about architects like Ray Kappe, and has put together thematic shows on emerging architects (New Blood: Next Gen), on the future of LA (LA Now!), on design-savvy developers (Enlightened Development), and on the destruction and rebuilding of New Orleans (After The Flood). Future shows—roughly four per year, said Kanner—will be split evenly between architecture and design. The museum had tended to lean more heavily toward architecture. Future exhibits, he noted, could feature production design, commercial design, graphic design, and film set design in addition to a variety of architecture-based shows. The museum will also focus more on outreach and education.
“It’s not just a museum for architects and designers, but a museum for the public,” said Kanner.
Before construction begins, the A+D will host a pop-up exhibition in the new space from May 8 to 23 called UPCYCLING: Recuperating Past Lives, featuring art and design objects made from recycled materials. Its first exhibition in the completed space is not yet set, although A+D Director Tibbie Dunbar said that the museum will host the Society of Design Administration’s 2009 CANstruction event and exhibition in early October.