FROM Michael Govan
LACMA's bridge to the future A rendering of the new LACMA campus, showing it crossing Wilshire Boulevard Photo courtesy Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner / The Boundary For years now we've been hearing about a proposed building by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor to take the place of four existing ones at LACMA. Well, this project, estimated to cost upwards of $600 million, is creeping towards reality. Right now the scheme is in the midst of an environmental impact report and public comments for the draft EIR are invited through Friday. The final EIR is due to be completed by middle of next year. Then the County and City will sign off on the project, and in 2019 demolition of the Bing Theater, the Ahmanson, Hammer and the Art of the Americas buildings is expected to begin. The point of the draft EIR however is not to address the design of the new building, which consists of an S-shaped main gallery level lifted over parkland on seven thick legs, or cores, containing naturally-lit galleries. Critics of the scheme have a number of concerns about the design, among them the anti-urban nature of the building, the sheer expanse of building that will loom over visitors' heads, and whether the design fits Los Angeles. DnA went to a draft EIR meeting and met with LACMA director Michael Govan, architecture historian Alan Hess as well as EIR consultants and a local resident named John Freedland. While Freedland expresses his enthusiasm for the project, welcoming "the cafe space, more green space, the nice serpentine flow of the building, the glass outdoor/indoor aspect of the display," Hess was less convinced. "I'm always looking for a building which is really really rooted in the character, the climate, the people of the place," he tells DnA, adding that he's not sure the Zumthor design achieves that. But the most dramatic and controversial aspect of the design is that the sandy-colored concrete and glass structure will extend across Wilshire Boulevard to a site at Spaulding on Wilshire's south side. This will house a theater, and the bridge will itself serve as a gallery space for viewing art and passing traffic underneath. This move was introduced when it became evident that the original black amoeba-like scheme of Peter Zumthor's could not fit on the north side of Wilshire, because of Govan's insistence the museum be one story tall. So will the resulting bridge feel like a freeway overpass? "All I can think of," says Hess, "is the experience of driving up to it, having this big ribbon blocking your view of the sunset as you're driving west." Au contraire, says Govan, telling DnA that it will instead be a sculptural work of art that pulls the boulevard "into the vision of the museum" in a way that makes it "literally part of architecture and part of the environment." Another concern is the expanse of unadorned concrete, both inside and out, in the 30 feet high, bare chapel-like display spaces in the cores, on the undersides of the raised gallery spaces, and on the walls of the supporting structures. Govan says that what you find in Zumthor buildings is "the weightiness of the real materials punctuated by the ephemerality of light and shadow, which he so beautifully choreographed. So he's got the heavy materials but they're always being modulated by light and shadow." These heavy materials won't be grim, he said, "because it's going to be actually beautifully textured. And then the light changes so much that actually you will think there are different colors."
LACMA is coming to South LA LACMA's Wilshire Boulevard complex is on the brink of a major transformation. Four of its buildings are said to be falling apart and are set to be demolished. Taking their place will be a radically different design, by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. So the museum needs space to store art and house staff and has found a very interesting site: a former bus maintenance and storage facility in South LA Wetlands Park. The building dates back to 1911 and has sat empty for thirty years. Michael Govan has plans to lease it for the next 35. It's part of a long-held plan to take LACMA out into diverse communities in Los Angeles. The former bus maintenance and storage facility in South LA Wetlands Park that LACMA hopes to renovate and move into Photo by Avishay Artsy
Remembering media-shy LA philanthropist Jerry Perenchio LA billionaire Jerry Perenchio died this week. He produced hit movies and TV shows, transformed Univision into a media empire, and gave most of his personal art collection -- worth $500 million -- to LACMA.
Saving Pereira's buildings Los Angeles architect William Pereira designed the former Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Echo Park, opened in 1963, as well as three buildings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, opened in 1965. Both are threatened with demolition. We talk to those who want them removed as well as those who want them preserved.
The Sheats-Goldstein Residence Last week LACMA announced it has received a big gift - a house in the slopes above Beverly Hills designed by John Lautner. He is the architect who got his start working for Frank Lloyd Wright and went on to design astounding homes that helped seal LA's reputation as a laboratory for experimental houses. The Sheats-Goldstein Residence was built in the early 60's for an artist, Helen Sheats, and her husband Paul, a university professor. It changed hands and was bought by James Goldstein in 1972. He worked with John Lautner to restore and adapt the house. DnA producer Avishay Artsy toured the house last week and met its owner.
Chris Burden Los Angeles conceptual artist Chris Burden died over the weekend in his Topanga home. He was 69. Burden is best known for his piece “Urban Light,” the collection of street lights in front of LACMA that look like the Parthenon. But he began his career as an outrageous performance artist. For his master’s thesis at UC Irvine, Burden shut himself into a two-by-three foot school locker for five days. In 1975, at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, he lay completely still for 45 hours under a sheet of glass and next to a ticking clock. But the piece that caused the biggest uproar at the time was titled “Shoot.” In it he had himself shot in the arm by a friend with a rifle. We look back at Burden’s life and work. You can revisit KCRW's interview with Chris Burden for Design and Architecture here .
Fifty Years of LACMA When Michael Govan took over LA County's Museum of Art in 2006, it was a bastion of old money. This past Saturday night, the 50th birthday gala demonstrated how much he has made it the darling of the entertainment industry. Nobody disputes LACMA's renaissance over the past 10 years. Mayor Garcetti calls it proof that this is "LA's second golden age." But Peter Zumthor's building does have some people grumbling. To make way for the Zumthor Building , three buildings designed by William Pereira are scheduled to come down. See more models and details of Zumthor's proposed new building for LACMA
LACMA’s Big Gift The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art announced a major gift today: Billionaire Jerry Perenchio is leaving his vast art collection to the museum. It includes paintings and drawings by masters like Magritte, Picasso, Monet, and Manet and is valued at approximately $500 million. How did this come about?
LACMA’s Tarpit-Inspired Design Oozes Across Wilshire Last year LACMA director Michael Govan and architect Peter Zumthor presented a design for a large, blobular building to take the place of four of the older buildings at the County Museum, three dating from the 1960s by William Pereira and the 1986 Art of the Americas Building by Hardy Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates. The first hurdle the design ran into was in its own back yard -- the goopy black tarpits that had initially inspired the scheme. But it turned out the proposed building was too close for comfort for the Page Museum. So the team went back to work and recently released a new design, in which the blob has oozed across Wilshire Boulevard, and bridges the street. Govan discusses the scheme and also comments on reports that LACMA is in negotiations with Metro to build a skyscraper, possibly to be designed by Frank Gehry.
“Sculptural” Architecture at MOCA and LACMA In the last couple of weeks, two of the large-scale Pacific Standard Time Presents exhibits have opened; one at LACMA, showcasing Peter Zumthor’s design to replace four buildings on the museum site; the other is at MOCA. MOCA’s is an exhibit that stalled along the way, largely to do with the framing of the show, as “A New Sculpturalism.” About a month ago, architect Thom Mayne helped assemble a team to realize the installation. They maintained more or less the same designers, but changed the layout. So how does the show look and feel now? And more importantly what does the “sculptural” building actually proposed for LACMA mean for Los Angeles? We heard from architecture writer Sam Lubell, installation manager Anne Marie Burke, architect Peter Zumthor and LACMA director Michael Govan and architect Craig Hodgetts.
LACMA by Zumthor: An 'Inkblot' on the Landscape If you head West on that ride, the endpoint will be the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which right now is itself the subject of a PSTP exhibit, " The Presence of the Past : Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA." T he exhibit's restrained title masks the surprise you get on seeing the show. In addition to plans and models telling the story of the site, dating back to prehistory and the tar pits, the main event is towards the back of the Resnick Pavilion -- a huge dark gray concrete model of a dramatic new building being proposed for the site, by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, that has been described variously as an "inkblot," an "amoeba" and a "black flower." In the first of an ongoing look at this project, architecture reporter Edward Lifson and LACMA director Michael Govan give us a brief history of the site and how the new building would remake this part of Wilshire.
Is LACMA Ready for the World Stage? Even before becoming director of the LA County Museum of Art seven years ago, Michael Govan was talking with Swiss architect Peter Zumthor . The subject was a re-creation of LACMA , and the conversation is still going on. The goal is to elevate Los Angeles to become a center of art in the same league as Paris, Rome, Athens and —especially — New York. In June, LACMA will open an exhibition to showcase Zumthor's design. In the meantime, Goven is building interest by talking about it in various forums.
Walter De Maria's Art in 'Cosmic' Harmony with LACMA's Architecture When LACMA's Resnick Pavilion was first opened, a lucky few art insiders got to see an artwork installed there by Walter De Maria. It was a piece that LACMA director Michael Govan had imagined for that space. Now it has been reinstalled, in the central third of the Pavilion: The 2000 Sculpture is made of 2000 individual pieces of plaster, each arranged in such a precise manner that it moves beyond mathematics into poetry. Govan describes the incredible power of the site-specific work. The 2000 Sculpture is on show through April of next year. Walter De Maria, The 2000 Sculpture, 1992; Collection of Walter A. Bechtler-Siftung, Switzerland; Photo © 2012 Museum Associates/LACMA
Levitated Mass Opens at LACMA On Sunday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will finally open its latest "destination artwork," Levitated Mass . That's the name bestowed on the 340-ton boulder transported from a quarry in Riverside through four counties and 22 cities on a 300-foot-long vehicle designed for the purpose. Michael Heizer is the artist who thought it up, but it was Michael Govan who had the vision and persistence to bring it to LACMA.
Chris Burden's High-Speed Vision of LA's Future Urban Light, a grove of ornate, historic lampposts at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art , has become a much-loved landmark, and a gentle evocation of the Southland’s past. Now the same artist, Chris Burden, has created a new interpretation of Los Angeles, that’s the opposite of a stroll down a Victorian street. Burden, known for his performance and installation work, has created a kinetic sculpture named Metropolis II , a room-size imaginary city, with multi-level freeways and rail lines looping around cheerful skyscrapers. It’s made of Plexiglas, glass and stone tile and children’s building materials: Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and Haba wooden blocks. It's also a feat of engineering, involving years of experimentation by a team of artists and lead engineer Zack Cook. The result is a delight, an artwork that’s instantly accessible, and appeals to the kid in all of us. But it’s meant to do more that. Burden says the sculpture is meant to evoke an LA of the future, where self-driving cars zip along at 200 miles per hour and one could drive from Pasadena to Santa Monica in a handful of minutes. Thomas Crow, professor of modern art at New York University, comments on this clattering, whirring vision of the future, especially in comparison to the peaceful Urban Light. And LACMA's director Michael Govan speaks about why Burden's interpretation of the city was the perfect addition to LACMA's collection. But could Burden's vision really be a glimpse into LA's future? Frances asks Dan Neil, auto critic for the Wall Street Journal, for his take on whether or not Metropolis II could eventually be a reality. A video of the making of Metropolis II by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman The sculpture is so complex an operator must stand at the center while it's running to make sure nothing goes awry. Photo by Alissa Walker Chris Burden points out some structural features at one corner of the sculpture. Photo by Alissa Walker
Renzo Piano's Resnick Pavilion On October 2, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Resnick Pavilion opens to the public. The 45,000 square foot gallery is the newest art space at LACMA and the latest building on the campus to be designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Critics have already nicknamed the Resnick the "Baby Piano" since it indeed looks like the smaller sibling of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum , which opened in 2008. LACMA Director Michael Govan discusses how it fits into his art and architecture vision for the campus, and architecture writer Sam Lubell explains why Piano is the go-to architect for so many art museums.
Trump says goodbye Paris Accord: What does it mean for U.S. and the planet? President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the landmark international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Trump was to renegotiate a new deal, but will that happen?
Why did Jared Kushner want a back channel with Russians? News broke Friday that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, tried setting up a back channel between the Trump transition team and the Russian government. What are the consequences for Kushner, President Trump, and the investigation into Russian meddling?
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”
Revisiting showrunner Steven Bochco on his memoir Steven Bochco, the writer-producer behind record-breaking Emmy winners Hill Street Blues, LA Law and NYPD Blue, fought battles with everyone from out-of-control actors to network censors in his long career. He isn’t afraid to tell those tales in his memoir, Truth Is a Total Defense. This week we revisit the conversation where he shared some of his favorite stories with us.