LACMA has given LA Times archicritic Christopher Hawthorne a sneak peek at initial plans to completely overhaul the museum campus--starchitect Peter Zumthor has been working with LACMA head Michael Govan for years and their first proposal will debut at an exhibition opening next week. We already know that Zumthor's plans will wipe out four LACMA buildings--the original 1965 Ahmanson, Hammer, and Bing, and the awful '80s Art of the Americas building--and we know that it'll be inkblotty, taking a visual note from the neighboring La Brea Tar Pits. But now we're finding out what it'll really look like, and it sounds pretty badass:
-- "[A]n undulating building of glass and dark-gray concrete, its single story lifted more than 30 feet into the air atop seven separate legs, each containing a staircase. At its eastern end, the building extends out over one edge of the La Brea Tar Pits."
-- "[T]he new building would reach tentacles to the northwest and northeast and toward the tar pits, while pulling back to accommodate Bruce Goff's Pavilion for Japanese Art."
-- "From certain angles the building's seven legs, which Zumthor calls 'pods' or 'cores,' may give it the look of a huge, lumbering animal pulling itself out of the tar pits, still dripping with oil. But from others the new structure will appear largely transparent, open at ground level and wrapped in glass above."
-- "Zumthor's building would slide right up against the Wilshire Boulevard sidewalk. Pedestrians would be able to walk right under it from the boulevard into or across the museum campus."
-- "Inside, despite the essential flatness of the building, the galleries would fill a variety of spaces, from a sunken room to show LACMA's prized 16th century Ardabil Carpet to rooms for European painting and sculpture with soaring ceilings 30 or 35 feet high. The roof would be almost entirely covered with solar panels."
-- "Zumthor wants each one [of the seven staircases] to be different in scale and character; each will be small enough to allow him to control the way visitors first come into physical contact with his architecture. As Zumthor and Govan now envision the design, each of the staircases will take visitors directly to a gallery holding one of the key artworks in the LACMA collection. One stair might lead to Tony Smith's 'Smoke,' another to the Ardabil Carpet."
-- "The galleries themselves would be largely boxy and rectilinear, playing against the fluidity of the building's container."
-- "A continuous walkway would run along the outside of the building, giving views of the Hollywood Hills and Wilshire Boulevard through floor-to-ceiling glass."
-- "Space along the perimeter walkway, which Zumthor calls a 'circular gallery,' would contain rotating exhibitions. The walkway would pull back from the edge of the building to make room for terraces at certain points, including on the west side of the new building, where a restaurant might include outdoor seating overlooking 'Urban Light' and the rest of the campus."
-- "Seen from above, the design, which the architect has nicknamed 'the Black Flower,' has a liquid, flowing appeal that seems closer in spirit to a building by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer or a collage by the modern artist Jean Arp than to Zumthor's existing architecture."
-- "Perhaps the strongest element of the design is the extent to which it reflects contemporary Los Angeles, a city that Zumthor, on repeated visits to meet with Govan over the last several years, has carefully studied. Like L.A., the proposed building is open and tolerant. It has no single main entrance or front staircase."
Zumthor and Govan will discuss the plan in a talk at LACMA tonight.
· LACMA's future unfurls in Peter Zumthor's design [LAT]
· 9 Things to Know About the Huge Proposed LACMA Redesign [Curbed LA]