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Zumthor: The Next Starchitect to Make Over LACMA?*

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[Left image via Architect's Newspaper; right image via LACMA]

Can this year's Pritzker winner Peter Zumthor do what Rem Koolhaas couldn't get the cash to do: reinvent the LACMA campus? Zumthor and LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan told The Architect's Newspaper what they want LACMA to look like:

It will either be one big building or not.
Zumthor calls the current layout "a little bit of a mess" and says they're "talking about rebuilding the whole east part of this campus from the two new Renzo Piano buildings all the way over to the tar pits." Both mention one new, big building, but Govan also says the plan might include keeping and restoring some of the old buildings.

There will be public space.
Zumthor calls public space "something not so well-known in Los Angeles," and says they'd "like to make the whole place open to the people." (He mentions an open-air cinema.) Govan talks about emphasizing the park and other outdoor spaces, and making a stronger connection between LACMA and the Natural History museum and tar pits.

It will be very LA.
Govan says he and Zumthor are "trying to create a more LA-looking place." Zumthor says the interior will be built around five or six anchor pieces of art, and that one of those pieces will be cinema. He also wants to build a "dark space" into the architecture--a space throughout for displaying commentary in assorted media. And he wants to "talk about when American art became a part of the world in the 1960s in a big way," and California's part in that.

It's not going to happen for a while.
Zumthor is known for his long design process. He calls LACMA a ten year project and says he needs two or three years "to come up with the solutions." Right now Zumthor says about that "dark space," "I know about the 'architectural tissue' for the building, but I have no idea how this could be done in real architecture!" The pair want to be close to having drawings when Govan starts approaching funders.

Money-wise, Govan says his proposal to the museum's board is for "a more incremental, longer-term plan." (He doesn't think Koolhaas failed in his LACMA redesign, but that LACMA wasn't ready for such a big project.) But what does he mean that "Since not everyone in Los Angeles is suffering from the recession, we may see a work by Peter Zumthor in LA fairly soon"? A "work"? We hope he's referring to LACMA and not the private residence in LA that this article says Zumthor is working on.

UPDATE: Edward Lifson, who did the interview for the Architect's Newspaper, writes on his blog that Zumthor told him the private residence is in Westwood and is for Tobey Maguire, who's a big fan.
· A Bolt of Zumthor [Architect's Newspaper]
· Swiss architect wins prized Pritzker award [Christian Science Monitor]

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