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Could the Blobby New LACMA Be White Instead of Black?

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LACMA announced an incredible gift this morning: "reclusive billionaire" and former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio will donate "at least 47 works" to the museum, including pieces by Monet, Léger, Magritte, Manet, and Picasso, as well as "a very unique mixed-media Degas," as reported by the LA Times. LACMA won't get the works until after Perenchio dies (he's 83), but the donation is also subject to one other big condition: Perenchio doesn't want it displayed in those ratty old mid-century LACMA buildings, only in the dramatically new Wilshire-Boulevard-spanning museum now in the planning stages, to be designed by starchitect Peter Zumthor and open in 2023. Conveniently enough, the LA County Board of Supes gave that plan its first big push forward yesterday with a $125-million pledge toward the perhaps $600-million project (the museum will have to raise $475 million itself).

As all this big money action is going on, Zumthor has just talked to Architectural Record about his still-evolving plans for the design of the new LACMA. Whatever happens, the plan will wipe out the three original mid-century buildings and the awful 1986 Art of the Americas building; the latest designs replace them with a huge and elevated black blob, 30 feet above the ground, stretching around the other museum buildings and across Wilshire Boulevard (this "central form-concept ... is likely to hold").

The blackness of the building is for energy efficiency (the roof is supposed to hold an enormous solar array), but Zumthor's not totally married to the color yet: "It might not be black ... It might even be white. In fact it was white—all last week it was white. But then I woke up one morning, and it was black again. And now I'm pretty sure that's right."

Meanwhile, Zumthor wants to wrap the perimeter of the building "with a continuous, glass-enclosed ribbon of a veranda, varying its depth and the relationship of its walls to overhangs, depending upon view and geographic orientation," as AR describes. That'll create a little more shaded space below the building, which Zumthor thinks will be high enough to avoid creating a dank pit below.

With a big chunk of money committed and the high-profile donation in place, it looks like this LACMA makeover is really happening now. Zumthor's serious too—he's opening an office in LA next year, which'll stay open until the project is done.
· Why a reclusive billionaire decided to give $500 million in art to L.A. museum [LAT]
· The Blob that Ate Wilshire Boulevard [AR]
· Peter Zumthor's New Design For LACMA Winds Above Wilshire [Curbed LA]

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