If [Peter Zumthor’s] new design is built, LACMA can no longer be associated with other encyclopedic museums in the United States that shaped their collections in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. Zumthor’s diminished plan would force it to shed the encyclopedic collections that are the very soul of the museum. It commits the original architectural sin of narcissism, of architecture for the sake of architecture.
This let-the-public-chew-concrete moment is all the more shameful because LACMA has gone ahead with demolition just as COVID-19 has taken over the country, state, county, and city, closing down all but essential activities. The administrations of two other museums under construction in Los Angeles — the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park — have had the common decency to stop construction, admitting they are non-essential projects, and, hence, not worth risking the health of construction workers. Under the phony pretense that it suddenly cares for the public after having ignored public opinion for over a decade, LACMA claims its intent is to infuse (mostly public) money into the local economy, as though suddenly this deeply selfish boondoggle had an altruistic purpose: job creation. — Joseph Giovannini*
As an imaginary counter to what Giovannini calls LACMA director Michael Govan’s “fait accompli,” the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA accepted proposals from twenty-eight international architectural firms and collections, choosing six final designs in two categories: “Existing Buildings” and “Ground Up.”
The six designs are by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design; 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 link below for details.
*Joseph Giovannini, “Demolition Under Cover of Covid-19,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May, 1, 2020.
This week, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles criticizing Zumthor’s design and Govan’s advocacy of it.
From top, designs by: Re(in)novating LACMA, by Reiser + Umemoto, New York (2); Unified Campus, by Paul Murdoch Architects, Los Angeles (2); HILLACMA, by TheeAe (The Evolved Architectural Eclectic), Hong Kong (2); LACMA Wing, by Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna; Reimagining / Restructuring, by Saffet Kaya Design, London (2); Tabula LACMA, by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design (2). Images courtesy and © the architects and the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA.