Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner / The Boundary


What does the building project entail?

The project entails the demolition of four buildings on the LACMA East Campus (Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, and Hammer buildings, as well as the Leo S. Bing Center), the construction of a new building that would extend over Wilshire Boulevard to the Spaulding Lot at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Spaulding Avenue, and the construction of a parking structure on Ogden Drive to relocate the parking spaces on the Spaulding Lot.

Why is LACMA doing this building project?

The buildings to be demolished have many serious structural problems, compromising their ability to hold our collections and host our visitors and staff. To retrofit the existing buildings would be nearly as costly as constructing the proposed new building, while still failing to provide the setting most appropriate for the collections and visitors. Museums change over time to accommodate cultural shifts in our relationship to the arts, and the aging buildings no longer reflect the best and most effective way to exhibit the museum's collections.

Is LACMA's project goal to expand its programs?

No. The goal is to replace the four aging buildings (Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, and Hammer buildings, as well as the Leo S. Bing Center) and improve the functionality of the museum building for the permanent collection.

What is the timeline of the proposed project?

Demolition and construction of the Project is anticipated to commence during the third or fourth quarter of 2018 and be completed by the end of 2023, at the same time the Metro Purple Line station opens.

How would you describe the design for the proposed new building?

The museum building would consist of seven semi-translucent structures at ground level that would support an elevated transparent main exhibition level 20–30 feet above ground. This speaks to the architect and the museum director’s interest in creating a comprehensive environment rather than just a signature landmark. It marks a shift from the paradigm of the museum as a hierarchical enclave of culture proper, to a more open, engaging model in which all cultures coexist on the same plane.

The building would be situated within Hancock Park and extend to the south across Wilshire Boulevard to an existing surface parking area located on Spaulding Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. The elevated design of the museum would also enhance the outdoor experience for visitors and guests by expanding outdoor public programming, educational spaces, and sculpture gardens that would integrate the building with existing uses within Hancock Park.

The building’s design would open up the site and add approximately 2.5 acres of new public outdoor space on the north side of Wilshire Boulevard. Approximately one acre of public open space would also be provided on the Spaulding Lot south of Wilshire Boulevard. As a result, the project would add a total of about 3.5 acres of open public space within the project site.

How big is the new building?

The building would be approximately 387,500 square feet. It will replace four existing buildings totaling approximately 393,000 square feet for an overall reduction of approximately 5,300 square feet. The project would also include two freestanding small ticket booths, one in the southwest corner of LACMA East and one in the northwest corner of the Spaulding Lot. The proposed ticket booths would replace the existing ticket booths and each would be approximately 800 square feet in size.

The project would also include a 300-seat theater for lectures, music, and performances. This would result in an overall theater seat reduction of 416 seats from the existing 600-seat Bing Theater and the 116-seat Brown Auditorium.

The project also includes the construction of the Ogden parking structure, a new 260-space parking structure on the Ogden lot that would replace the parking spaces currently on the Spaulding lot.

How high, how wide, and how long is the portion of the building that crosses over Wilshire?

The proposed museum building would have a general height of approximately 55 to 65 feet above grade; however, the roof of some interior galleries would reach a maximum height of 85 feet. The main exhibition level would be located approximately 20 to 30 feet above ground level, and the portion that spans Wilshire Boulevard would be approximately 20 to 25 feet above the street.

What is the artistic or cultural benefit of the design?

The new building opens up access to art through its horizontal, transparent design and creates a fluid and integrated experience by uniting the LACMA campus with the surrounding park space, NHM La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The design will create an intimate experience with art through its seven pavilions, while embracing the breadth, depth, and diversity of LACMA’s many collections. The new building opens up public outdoor space while providing an enhanced experience with art by breaking down the historic “fortress” museum concept. In contrast, the current building configuration creates a barrier between the street and the campus and between visitors and their destination, is not easy to navigate, and is not smoothly integrated into the surrounding park and the rest of the LACMA campus.

Who will review and approve the proposed project, the County or the City?

The County of Los Angeles will be the primary authority (the Lead Agency) for review and approval of the proposed project and environmental documents. The City of Los Angeles will participate in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as a Responsible Agency and consider approvals for portions of the proposed project within its jurisdiction (the Ogden parking structure and the elevated part of the new building that crosses Wilshire Boulevard).

Will LACMA do an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to evaluate and address potential project impacts?

Yes. A comprehensive EIR is being prepared to carefully assess any potential environmental impacts, and this document will be available for public review and comment. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) has been released, and issues addressed include traffic, historical resources, methane, archeology/paleontology, utilities, water, and geotechnical issues, among others.

Will there be opportunities for public comment and participation?

LACMA will be hosting several opportunities for public participation throughout the entire process. We will continue to meet with neighborhood stakeholders to provide information and solicit comments on the project, and the County and City will conduct several public meetings for the same purpose. The first public meeting was a public Scoping Meeting at LACMA, on Wednesday, August 24,2016. The DEIR has been released. DEIR Public Meeting will be held at LACMA on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Before the proposed project is approved, the Final Environmental Impact Report will be prepared addressing all public comments received on the DEIR.

How will the project be funded?

The project will be funded with approximately 80% private donations raised by Museum Associates, the nonprofit public benefit corporation that manages, operates, and maintains LACMA, and approximately 20% by the County of Los Angeles, which will own the building.

What is the total cost of the proposed project?

The proposed project is estimated to cost $650 million plus contingencies.

Where will the new subway station be located?

The new station for the Metro Purple Line subway (Wilshire/Fairfax Station) is scheduled to open in 2023 and will be located directly across from LACMA, on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Orange Grove Avenue. The subway will provide a very important alternative means of transportation to the museum.

Will the parking spaces in the lot on Spaulding Avenue be relocated?

Yes, the parking spaces in the lot on Spaulding Avenue will be relocated to a new parking structure on Ogden Drive, just south of Wilshire Boulevard.

Will there be changes to the design as the process moves forward?

The project is currently in the Design Development Phase and it is likely that some changes may occur as the architects continue to refine the design concept. The design has been refined to reduce the number of pavilions from eight to seven, and the color scheme has been modified to reflect the more natural tones of the Los Angeles landscape, and create greater compatibility with existing Miracle Mile buildings. On the Spaulding lot, the building entrance and programming have been re-oriented toward Wilshire Boulevard, providing more open space and an enhanced buffer for nearby neighbors.

LACMA's Bold Future - Design LA, Los Angeles Times
LACMA's Bold Future - Design LA, Los Angeles Times
LACMA's Bold Future - Design LA, Los Angeles Times