The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest encyclopedic museum west of the Mississippi with 350,000 square feet of built interior space in its four core buildings on six acres of land. LACMA is about to enter a major construction project: the four existing buildings on the east campus (the Ahmanson, Hammer, and Arts of the Americas Buildings, and the Bing Center) will be demolished and replaced by one new building. After carefully analyzing publicly available documents about the new building designed by architect Peter Zumthor, we regretfully concluded the design is inadequate and dysfunctional: it provides too little gallery space, consumes too much land, and costs an extravagant price per square foot. It strips the museum of essential services such as curatorial offices and the library. The design fails the collections, which will be stored or dispersed to other locations.
In a corrective competition, the Citizens' Brigade to Save LACMA invited architects to submit ideas for alternative solutions that would expand gallery space rather than shrink it, and use less rather than more land, while providing a home for the collections and services needed for their care.
Participants in the idea competition had only a month, and yet 28 proposals from around the world were submitted, all of which are superior to the Zumthor scheme. They all provide enough exhibition space for LACMA’S wide-ranging and diverse collections in a multi-story building that uses much less land, which is better banked for future projects. Designers could either work with some or all of the existing LACMA buildings, or create a new design from the ground up.
The jury selected three compelling schemes from each of the two categories, “Existing Buildings" and “Ground Up." We are not proposing that any one of them be built as is, but simply suggesting that the public, the museum board, and the County Board of Supervisors view them as possible starting points for developing alternatives that truly capture people’s eyes, hearts, and minds, and showcase LACMA's collections in a practical and architecturally stimulating environment. LACMA needs a building that sustains and enhances rather than diminishes its leadership role among American institutions.
The six firms are Barkow Leibinger, Berlin; Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna; Kaya Design, London; Paul Murdoch Architects, Los Angeles; Reiser + Umemoto, New York City; and TheeAe (The Evolved Architectural Eclectic), Hong Kong.
See the Leading Ideas designed from the ground up HERE.
See the Leading Ideas using existing LACMA buildings HERE.
Vote on your favorite in each category HERE. (Voting will be open until May 15th)