Swiss starchitect Peter Zumthor has been in the process of designing a brand new LACMA campus, in the form of some kind of elevated blob, for close to two years now. The first iteration was a little too cozy with the neighboring La Brea Tar Pits, which the design mirrored; the second wound away from the pits and over Wilshire Boulevard, and was either going to be all black or all white. Today Zumthor reveals his third draft, and … it looks more like a building.
The monolithic megastructure remains (it will replace three original 1960s buildings and a 1980s building), but the amorphous blob on the north side of the campus has been shaved down and streamlined into something springy and svelte, and more of the campus has been shifted south, toward the bridge across Wilshire, making the project more balanced. It also meets up better with the west campus, designed by Renzo Piano; before it had left a dead space between.
The latest draft, via , the LA Times, brings a number of logistical changes as well. The mobius strip galleries that ringed the campus in a never-ending loop around its perimeter are gone, replaced by "double-height galleries […] poking up above the roofline." Gone too are the multitude of staircases that would have led up into the building at various points around the campus; plans now call for just two entrances, at the north and south ends, by the LACMA parking structure and the future Purple Line subway stop, respectively.
The galleries themselves (don't forget, this whole thing is being built to exhibit art) will be contained within six discrete sections made of light- or white-colored concrete, so as to lessen the pressure exerted by all-black-everything. And it may not even be black—LACMA head Michael Govan tells the Times "It's probably going to be closer to that slate-gray, Cy Twombly, blackboard shade." Where the double-height galleries don't pop out of the ceiling, the roof will be covered in solar panels.
Any construction is still a ways off. The timetable calls for a groundbreaking in 2018, with expected completion in 2022 or 2023 (around the time another long overdue, transformative project is completed at Wilshire and Fairfax), and that's assuming the museum can raise the half-billion dollars needed to finance construction. Don't be surprised to see plans change again—Zumthor's come a long way in two years, and he's got another three to think it over. —Ian Grant
· Peter Zumthor's plan for LACMA undergoes makeover [LAT]
· Peter Zumthor's New Design For LACMA Winds Above Wilshire [Curbed LA]
· Here's the First Look at Peter Zumthor's Huge LACMA Redesign [Curbed LA]