Ideas for a Better LACMA
Designers worked with all or some of the existing buildings on the LACMA East Campus threatened by demolition.
Three proposals were chosen as Leading Designs in this category.

Re(in)novating LACMA

Design by RUR Architecture, Reiser + Umemoto, New York City.
See more HERE
Tabula LACMA
Design by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design.

See more HERE

Reimagining/ Restructuring
Design by Saffet Kaya Design, London.
See more HERE
"Re(in)novating LACMA" by Reiser + Umemoto

Reiser + Umemoto’s aim was “to create a coherent, retroactive masterplan that builds off the campus’ prior successes and seeks to engage and reinvigorate the full breadth of LACMA’s collection.” The three-pronged approach includes adding new elements in and around the original 1965 buildings, binding them into a new whole. The Cone sits within and atop the Ahmanson; The Bar, an elevated gallery building, transects the campus from north to south, offering an appropriately scaled Wilshire entrance and new gallery space; The Cluster replaces the 1986 building with a series of interior pod-shaped galleries, as well as exterior exhibition space on a reimagined plaza level. “The architects found a way to make the plaza into a connective tissue and strategically make the existing buildings work as an ensemble,” said the jury, which also commended the clear circulation that employed new interstitial spaces to move people through the building’s interior spaces.

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Reiser + Umemoto, based in New York City, builds in a wide range of scales, from furniture design, to residential and commercial structures, to landscape, urban design, and infrastructure. Established by Jesse Reiser, AIA, and Nanako Umemoto, among the firm’s recent work are Taipei Pop Music Center in Taiwan, Kaohsiung Port Terminal in Taiwan, and 0-14 Tower Dubai in United Arab Emirates. 

“Tabula LACMA” by Barkow Leibinger with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design

This “reconstitution” is an unusual hybrid of old and new, as it maintains the scale and context of the original LACMA buildings by reconstructing them with modern, sustainable materials, then interconnecting them with a new plinth form punctured by courtyards. Barkow Leibingerworking with landscape designer Lillian Montalvostresses this would “provide spaces for art, delight, and public encounter.” The jury thought this flexible, spacious design addressed the changing role of museums by including a good amount of shopping, cafés, and event venues that urbanize the spaces and engender a lively environment. “There’s a powerful idea of using the area around the pavilions to create a whole new programmed space,” according to the jurors. They enjoyed the rediscovery of the inner plaza and could “imagine these would be great spaces to be in, as well as fun to discover.” 

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Barkow Leibinger is an American/German architectural practice based in Berlin and New York, founded in 1993 by Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger, Hon. FAIA. Recently completed buildings include the Trumpf Smart Factory in Chicago, the Fellows Pavilion for the American Academy in Berlin, the HAWE Factory Kaufbeuren, and the Tour Total office high-rise in Berlin. Their work was included in the Serpentine Summer House program in 2016 in London and was shown in the 2nd Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017. 

“Reimagining/Restructuring” by Saffet Kaya Design

Replacing the 1986 building, Kaya Design proposes “to preserve the best elements of the past while creating a more contemporary, multi-use alternative space.” An elevated volume that respects the scale of the existing structures has solid walls on three sides for curatorial flexibility, then opens to the north with an all-glass façade. Circulation into the entrance is through a gentle ramp/walkway leading into the lobby that directs visitors to the other buildings on other floorsthe ramps equalizing the importance of all adjacent floors. The new structure is reserved for exhibition space on six above-grade levels, including the interior of the spiral element. “This design achieves a considerable service to the campus, making the east campus more coherent than it’s ever been,” said the jury. “The biological form of the spiralas ancient as seashells and hurricanesgives value to the floors it connects.” 

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Saffet Kaya Design, with locations in London, Istanbul, and Cyprus, was established in 2017 by Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu. Prior to forming his own firm, he collaborated with Zaha Hadid Architects on several competition-winning projects, such as the London Aquatics Centre for 2012 Olympic Games, the Kartal Pendik Masterplan in Istanbul, and the regeneration of Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, Cyprus. He previously collaborated with Frank O. Gehry & Associates on such large-scale projects as the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, MA, and the Lake Front Music Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park.