In early November, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved the appropriation of $125 million in bond funds for LACMA’s $600 million makeover. The plan, designed by Peter Zumthor, proposes to tear down most of the campus and erect a new building that snakes over Wilshire Boulevard. If approved, the new 410,000-square-foot facility could open by 2023, with the remaining funding coming from private donations.
According to the LA Times, LACMA director Michael Govan told the Board of Supervisors that the museum’s older buildings “are really ailing. They are not worth saving. The new building will be much more energy efficient and accessible to a broad public.”
LACMA SVP of External Affairs Terry Morello told AN that bringing the campus’ buildings up to code would cost over $350 million; so demolishing the existing built fabric and starting from scratch would be the most economic choice. “There’s been very little call for preservation of this building,” said Mordello. “The original design was compromised within the first year of its being built.”
William Pereira’s Ahmanson, Hammer, and Bing buildings, as well as Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer’s 1986 addition would all meet the wrecking ball. The plan does preserve some of the museum’s spaces, including Renzo Piano’s new BCAM and Resnick buildings and Bruce Goff’s Japanese Pavilion.
“It’s another great day in Los Angeles,” said LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at a November 6 press conference. “The new LACMA is about to come forward. It’s exciting, it’s inspiring. It will deepen and expand the footprint of this institution.”
The move to extend Zumthor’s eastern addition over Wilshire took place in June, in response to fears that Zumthor’s curving, ink spot–like design would disturb the adjacent La Brea Tar Pits. The new iteration—which has worried some neighbors—would touch down on the site of a current parking lot across the street. LACMA is also reportedly talking with LA’s Transit Agency, METRO, about developing a Frank Gehry–designed tower across the street, closer to Fairfax Avenue.
The Zumthor project is still far from moving ahead. There are several months remaining before the project’s feasibility study concludes. Morello said that the project’s EIR would take 18 months to two years to complete. And there are still hundreds of millions of dollars to be raised. The agreement with the supervisors provided approximately $7.5 million for feasibility and planning studies.