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LACMA redesign: Here are the newest renderings

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There’s one big change

Courtesy of Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner/The Boundary. All other images courtesy of Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has released a new batch of renderings for its planned $600-million redesign, a total overhaul designed by Peter Zumthor. The Pritzker Prize winner intends to knock down much of the Miracle Mile campus, replacing four buildings—including three 1960s-era buildings designed by prolific modernist architect William Pereira—with a sort of S-shaped concrete building that’s elevated off the ground and spans Wilshire Boulevard.

The new wing has been described as “bloblike” and “amorphous,” and the most striking change revealed in the new renderings is that it’s no longer black. Now, it’s a neutral beige color.

Zumthor had said his new wing was inspired by the tar in the La Brea Tar pits, but Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne says Zumthor is retreating from that “oozing oil-slick quality” to “resemble more closely the architect’s sober and deeply effective 2007 Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany.” Says Hawthorne:

The importance of the shift in color is not simply that the exterior of the new LACMA will be tan concrete instead of black (or dark gray) concrete; it is that the outside walls will now match the ones inside the galleries, creating an enveloping and monolithic architectural experience, as is the case at Kolumba.

Without further ado, the new renderings:

The most controversial part of Zumthor’s proposal has been to build a bridge over Wilshire, and that’s still very much a part of the plan. In 2015, KCRW’s Design and Architecture Host Frances Anderton told LACMA director Michael Govan that the bridge “does seem as if it might be rather dark and weighty overhead.”

Govan refuted it would be dark, arguing it would be “super exciting” to drive through a museum “that you’ll see right through.” He added that, “going over Wilshire Boulevard does many many things, including putting the museum in the middle of the community, staying away from the tar pits and giving a future chance for the museum to expand.”

Demolition of the old buildings could begin as soon as 2018, but before the new wing can built, it has to undergo an environmental review.