Getting Rid of LACMA

LACMA's "transformation" takes an apocalyptic turn in The Architect Newspaper's eye-opening interview with Peter Zumthor and Michael Govan. In case you didn't know, Govan has tapped the Pritzker Prize-winning architect to rethink the entire LACMA campus. (Wasn't there some other guy doing that?) Says Zumthor:

I’m sorry to say, but today what they have here are strange buildings that clog up any public spaces. It’s a little bit of a mess now on this site, so we’re trying to think, how could we get rid of this?

There's no point in being shocked. The idea that LACMA's architecture merits obliteration is as old as the original 1965 complex (above, one artist's conception). Chief curator Jim Elliott privately called William L. Pereira's neoclassical structure “the first tract house museum.” Two decades later, Robert Hughes rated it not just bad but “probably the worst of any large museum in America… the proper response… would have been the bulldozer.” Then it got worse. Hughes was writing about the 1986 Anderson Building, which he likened to the giant foot in Monty Python. The next big development was Rem Koolhaas' unexecuted plan for LACMA, which promised complete annihilation of almost everything.

Zumthor's plans are, to say the least, years away from any possible realization. But he said he intends to have drawings in "half a year at the latest" so that Govan can show them to donors. The subtext is that Renzo Piano was chosen by LACMA's board — most especially Eli Broad — before Govan was hired. Govan naturally wants to choose his own architect. He finesses that point in the interview:

It’s pretty clear that over time we’ll need to do something major with our old campus.… And you know obviously Rem [Koolhaas] proposed an interesting scheme for that process, and Renzo [Piano] has proposed some ideas as well. For me, I had worked with Peter Zumthor before, and he’s just one of the great architects of architectural history and so I was really interested in working with him to get his take on what might be accomplished if you really took a big, long view…"

Govan insists Bruce Goff's Japanese Pavilion is "a keeper," and it sounds like they will spare the two Renzo Piano buildings. After all, one of them is still under construction.


Gerald said…
I don't know if a roof with posts counts as a building, but aren't there three soon to be three Piano buildings?
Donald Frazell said…
Its fine, just fill it up with something worth seeing, light it better, kids dont know squat about lighting these days, and paint the walls, make the flow better and more human proportions. Things these days are absurdly huge, while showly garbage.

And the Japanese Pavilion is crap, uglya snhell, and dark. the sickly green is what we built tiny house models of cheap styrofoam decades ago. Beautifal art inside that is hurt by bad displays. Paint the damn thing white, wiht dark wood trim, Japanese art is very masculine, this looks effeminant like Chinese art. And raplace the cheap and dingy plastic panels with a more pure white with better light qualities. It is the best thing they got going, and ruined it with an ugly building. But it can be at least made better.

Architects these days all fancy themselves sculptores, and have terribly proportions and ease of movement, of feeling comfortable, of humanity. All huge adn sterile adn amde to be photographed for awards and magazines, not actually living in. Art is made for, by, and about life, not attitude.

And play some damn music, what is apporpriate for each floor, and no, nothing by stupid art school white boys, no talking heads or "contemporary" composers. No Euro musics after Schoenberg and some hardcore jazz. Trane, bird, Miles, Monk, REAL msuic about humanity, not sterilized ivory tower wannabes. Put in some fountains, some fabrics, something to make it human, nice sofas, and safe the money. Lower the ceilings, paint the walls, and for gods sake LIGHT it better. Its supposed to be about us, not academic dorks.

art collegia delenda est
Donald Frazell said…
This is easy to fix up, with a lil imagination, something not teachable, or certainly from academic sources. I checked it out, and could easily paint the pillars various colors, No, no rainbows, one color per building with flashes of other colors, and panels that are not of the pillars different, and also the walkway around the Ahmanson too. And easy to fix the atrium of the Ahmanson, what a waste of space. Its amazing the lack of crativity in the art world these days. Amazing.

And can make the open area inbetween a public and active wpspace quite easily, one taht would not be possible in a one dimentsional preplanned architectural behemoth, that leaves not room for improvisation. Amazing.

I will have plans up on my site shortly, but not today, got work in one of those New Topographics buildings. Amazing.

Art Collegia Delenda Est
Unknown said…
And about time. LACMA's buildings seem to have been designed with a complete disregard for visitors. It is one of the most user unfriendly museums I have ever seen. The lack of signage is appalling. Take the "Art of the America's" building for example: How do you get upstairs to see the permanent collection? The elevator is completely unsigned. It looks just like a freight elevator, and the first time visitor would never guess its' purpose. Once inside, it is dark and intimidating. I have been in it multiple times with other people, and it is so slow the common consensus was that there was a problem and we were stuck. The stairways are also hidden, dark, and uninviting.

LACMA has an outstanding musuem collection, but the buildings, layout, and lack of natural light does not do it justice. Tear it down and start over.
Donald Frazell said…
Just posted my response, and sent it to the supervisors, Times, and mayor as well as LACMA.

I agree with the sign comment, and most of the guards arent helpful because I dont think they speak English too well, but most seem nice enough. The elevators are absurdly slow, I tend to take it to the top and then the stairs down, or just the stairs, I aint old and fat. But are hard to find. I have a answer for the Ahmanson on my blog.

It is easy to fix, much better than some monstrous new architecture which you cant do anything with, no areas one can paint or even show art on. They are afterall, "masterpieces". riiight. With just a little imagination, imporvising, and creativity its not hard to do at all, with many options and ease of changing in the future, but then, art schools dont exactly promote intelligentce, now do they?

art collegia delenda est

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