The red is the museum; the green is the planned plaza; yellow are far-off planned housing and retail
“Pigeons are tricky,” said Kevin Rice, project director at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, speaking after yesterday’s big press conference to announce the downtown Broad museum. “We're from New York and deal with pigeons all the time.”
Amid the media critiquing of the firm's honeycomb rendering, the question--raised by commenters on various web sites—--had to be asked. Given the nook-like design, will pigeons roost in Eli Broad’s new Grand Ave museum? “We don’t think it will be a problem,” Rice replied, pointing out the sides of the honeycomb design are “very steep." Additionally, using wires or sonar, "there are ways to deal with pigeons," he added.
Of course, most of the talk at yesterday's announcement, held at Disney Hall, wasn't about birds. Less a press event than a party (an organizer was overheard saying cocktails should have been served), the 300-person crowd included everyone from Frank Gehry to LACMA’s Michael Govan to Nelson Rising. Also spotted: Bruce Karatz, the former CEO of KB Home, reportedly under house arrest in Bel-Air, somehow sprung for the afternoon.
As the Times pointed out yesterday, some of the original designs of the three-story museum have been tweaked. For instance, the originally proposed artistic lights are gone. Or are they? “It’s not that it won’t happen,” said Rice, who added the museum will be built with provisions for the lights. It's more of a time crunch to do the necessary technical work, he added. "The schedule to get [the museum] built is a really fast schedule," he said.
Broad, who is funding the $130 million project, was more matter-of-fact. “With architects, it gets down to what’s affordable, and what we can do,” said Broad, before moving on to greet a well-wisher.
Besides the design unveiling, yesterday's other big announcement was a proposal for a new civic plaza that will rise on a deck above General Thaddeus Kosciusko Way, just south of museum. In the next few days, the Community Redevelopment Agency will ask for proposals, according to Josh Rohmer, Assistant Project Manager at the CRA. “ We want firms to design wider sidewalks," said Rohmer. "And come up with designs for the deck, and conceptualize how we are going to make this plaza connect with the Regional Connector." (The link for the area's rail lines will rise behind the Museum, to the west).
As it turns out, Diller Scofidio + Renfro will also submit plans for the plaza. Liz Diller, the only one of the three principals to attend yesterday's hearing, said the firm will try and get that job, too. “We’ll either be coordinating with whoever does it, or we'll be doing it," she said.
Given that the museum is rising on Related's Grand Ave site, Bill Witte, President of Related California, was in attendance. And yes, the Gehry-designed hotel and residential Grand Ave project is still stalled, according to Witte, adding financing issues are causing the delay. In a few weeks, the committee overseeing Grand Ave will vote on whether to grant the developer another two-year extension, meaning construction may not start until 2013. “We hope they grant it,” he said.
Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), was also in the crowd, and was asked about the status of Broad's collection at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. In 2008, Broad decided not to give BCAM his art collection. "There's plenty to go around," Govan said, pointing out that Broad's collection has 2,000 pieces, and it's expected Broad will continue lending. (When Broad opened in 2008, there were 200 Broad pieces; today, there are about 40 Broad pieces at BCAM, according to a rep for LACMA).)
Meanwhile, back to the real stars of the day, the new faces of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Diller may have been the only principal to come West for the unveiling, but who wasn't excited to see a woman holding court in LA's male-dominated developer scene? But she wouldn't be staying long in the city. In the short term, Rice will be flying back and forth to LA, while the principals will stay in New York to work on their numerous other projects. "We're very busy," said Rice.
· Revealed: Diller Scofidio+Renfro's Downtown Art Museum [