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LACMA’s new building design tweaked yet again

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Shorter, smaller, faster to build

The future Wilshire/Fairfax station on the Purple Line is seen next to the LACMA building, which will span Wilshire Boulevard.
Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partners / The Boundary via Building LACMA

A $650 million redesign of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by award-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is moving slowly but surely ahead with the release Friday of its final environmental impact report. The latest incarnation calls for the new building museum to be shorter and smaller, and it could be built in significantly less time, according to the report.

The design has been tweaked several times, and, under the newly released plans, the building would be 347,500 square feet—40,000 square feet smaller than the last version and more than 45,000 square feet smaller than the four existing LACMA buildings that will be razed and replaced by the Zumthor-designed structure.

The updated design also calls for the removal of the “chapel galleries” atop the building. Eliminating those galleries will shave down the height of the building to 60 feet tall now, instead of 85 feet as previously proposed. The building’s blob-like shape has remained, and it will still span Wilshire Boulevard.

The construction period would be quicker too—51 months instead of 68 months as previously planned.

As recently as July, LACMA director Michael Govan noted that the museum needed to raise $600 million by the end of 2018, or else, he told the Los Angeles Times, “it’s not gonna work.”

The museum’s website for the project says that to date, the museum has raised “approximately $560 million.”

Construction on the museum’s new building is expected to begin in late 2019 and wrap up by the end of 2023, “when the new Metro [Purple Line] station will open across the street from the museum.”

Next door, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and its 120-foot-tall glass and concrete sphere is under construction and expected to open this year.

A rendering of a large, beige structure spanning Wilshire Boulevard.
Floor-to-ceiling windows will be a feature of the portion of the museum that sits above Wilshire.
Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partners / The Boundary via Building LACMA
The building as seen from the sidewalk on Wilshire.
Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partners / The Boundary via Building LACMA

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