LACMA Releases Zumthor Floorplans

LACMA has released long-delayed gallery floor plans for Peter Zumthor's new permanent collection building, to be called the David Geffen Galleries. Despite the delay, the overall layout is hardly changed from a model shown in a slide show a year ago. The gallery level contains 27 concrete rectangles, of which two house rest rooms, and another connects to a ground-level theater. The remaining 24 rectangles enclose "core galleries" suitable for showing light-sensitive works. Two of the structures have two core galleries each, for 26 in all. Though all the core galleries are strict rectangles, they vary in size and degree of squareness. 

Rendering of a core gallery

Courtyard gallery

The spaces between the core galleries are now called courtyard galleries, and the perimeter, with the most sideways light, is termed the terrace gallery or galleries.

Terrace gallery
In outline this has not changed from previous renderings. The most notable change is the detailing. The ceiling (which contains the building's mechanical systems) now has a triangular/rhomboid pattern, the concrete walls are articulated into vertical rectangles, and the floors are shown a near-black asphalt terrazzo that recalls the original tar-pit black scheme for the exterior. This is not a final choice; concrete floors are also being considered.

The new floor plans don't offer much new insight into to the two great controversies of the Zumthor building: the decreased exhibition space and Michael Govan's vision of an ever-changing installation of the permanent collection. But in the LA Times Carolina Miranda reports that some installations will be fixed because of donor requirements. These include the Carter collection of Dutch paintings and the Lazarof holdings of modern art (which will be moved to BCAM).

It's weird that the Geffen Galleries's few "permanent" installations will be dictated by donors rather than curators. On the other hand, the Carter paintings fit together seamlessly and are one of the collection's high points. One would hate to think they wouldn't always be on view.

The Lazarof works were to have opened on the top floor of BCAM this fall, as part of a new installation of European, American, and Latin American art from about 1905 to the 1960s. This material was formerly shown in the Ahmanson and Arts of the Americas buildings, now demolished for a permanent collection building that will be about 10,000 sf smaller in exhibition space. I don't know how much space modern art will get in BCAM (which has about 20,000 sf per floor), but the move could help compensate for the campus-wide loss in permanent collection galleries—at the cost of losing temporary exhibition space in BCAM. 

Giacometti bronzes, some from the Janice and Henri Lazarof collection, as displayed in the Ahmanson Building

Exhibition space aside, they're not skimping on food and alcohol. Zumthor's design will relocate both Ray's + Stark Bar and the C&M Cafe to the new building, and offer a new wine bar as well. 

Rendering with Tony Smith's Smoke at far left

In April 2019 I questioned a rendering showing Tony Smith's Smoke huddled underneath the Zumthor slab. Smoke is 24 feet high, whereas the Environmental Impact Report said the underside of the building was 23 feet high at the Wilshire overpass. Now they're saying there will be 30 feet of head room. The new ground-level map contains a Sculpture Garden with a graphic that apparently represents Smoke


Anonymous said…
Well, at least LACMA's budget is in the black, probably one of the healthiest of any museum in the country.

As for the area under the concrete pile hanging above Wilshire Blvd? That certainly will be as nice and friendly as that of the finest freeway overpasses in America. A lot of trash and homeless encampments presumably won't be a part of it.

Zumthor's earthquake-disaster-waiting-to-happen design will be a thriller.

As for curators, conservation labs, large auditoriums, Ahmanson Foundations, serious scholarship, etc? Ethics and transparency? White privilege. Boo.

We don't need no stinkin' museums.
Anonymous said…
Looks really nice. Wonderful to know the carter collection will be in one place. The concept is reminiscent to MOMA’s new hanging. I wonder where the concept comes from.
Anonymous said…
It appears Zumthor altered the shape of the building to make room for Smoke.

In the rendering attached to this post, Smoke was positioned under the gallery floor (slab). Now, it is positioned under an overhang (roof slab). To cover Smoke, the overhang that stretches toward Urban Light has been extended. I like this change as it creates a covered entry plaza and more protection from the elements (rain).

As for the interior, I like the spatial arrangement. One can memorize the gallery plan of most museums after a single visit. This one will provide more chances for discovery.

The overall look is very elegant. The pairing of bronze metal (mullions and fixtures) and grey concrete is inspired. At the FW Museum, Ando paired aluminum mullions with grey concrete and it looks ordinary.

Also, I think the courtyard gallery (pictured above) is the one in the bridge portion of the building. Below and outside is the city, but this space seems so removed from all that.
Anonymous said…
Ho hum, let’s just call it Vals West and be done with it because this is just so uninspired, such a lazy act of self satisfied claptrappery you have to wonder if the Great Zumthor got bored and passed this project off to one of his minions.

Maybe the biggest question is, How difficult will it be to demolish this dud so a real museum can be built!
Anonymous said…
> How difficult will it be to demolish this dud
> so a real museum can be built!

Don't worry. LACMA has so much money and such a healthy bottom line that plans, programs, ideas, proposals and acquisitions will be pouring out of it over the next several years.

A local, world economy affected by Covid-19 will help ensure that.

Thanks, Govan/Zumthor/trustees/politicians. You're all quite the budget-conscious dilettantes.

Anonymous said…
Building Project: September 21 Update
September 21, 2020
We’re pleased to launch a video series about the new David Geffen Galleries, designed by Peter Zumthor. Released over the next few weeks, these short films will highlight how the David Geffen Galleries will transform visitors’ experience of LACMA’s campus and collections. Today’s video, One Collection, Many Paths, shares how visitors will explore untold stories of art in the new building. Stay tuned for other videos in the series.

Construction Update

The following work will be conducted this week:

Major structural demolition of the Ahmanson Building will be completed.
Removal of foundations of the Art of the Americas Building will be completed.
Trenching and site utilities installations north of Wilshire are complete.
Grading for pile installations north of Wilshire Boulevard will be completed.
Shoring installations and excavation at the Spaulding Lot continue.
Construction Hours

Monday–Friday: 7 am–7 pm

Saturday: 8 am–6 pm
Anonymous said…
One more important change is that the gallery walls seem to be a gray charcoal concrete. In earlier renderings, the gallery walls resembled the same light tan stone material they have cladding on the exterior. This change seems to throwback to the very first renderings when the project was a black blob.
Anonymous said…
So what if there are similarities between this building and the Vals Bath? Great architects have a method. The same method often produces similar effects --- not the same building, but the same sensibility.

Should we call Walt Disney Hall, Bilbao West because there are similarities between the two buildings? How stupid would that be?

And, the same people have the audacity to complain that they did not have more say in the design process. Best thing Govan did. It saved the rest of us from your ignorance and provincialism.

Anonymous said…
To the Save-LACMA mob, Princeton University thinks you are philistines. Here is Princeton's description of the design of their new museum building:

"The design of the new building allows the Museum’s globe-spanning collections to be exhibited substantially on a single level, shaping new ways of encountering the collections, privileging ideas of cultural contact and exchange, and fostering new modes of storytelling. By challenging the traditional hierarchies inherent in multilevel gallery display, the Museum will foster moments of discovery and surprise as visitors encounter ideas and objects in narratives that move beyond the boundaries of geography and chronology. This approach brings architecture and curatorial practice together in a manner that is rare among major cultural institutions."

The new Princeton University Museum was designed by David Adjaye. It consists of a cluster of pavilions, parts of which are lifted off the ground in order to allow pedestrian flow across campus. That sounds a lot like LACMA. Princeton is following Govan/LACMA's example.
Anonymous said…
Princeton's press release neglects to explain what the "traditional hierarchies inherent in multilevel gallery display" might be.

Are they the same ones inherent in David Adjaye's great, multistory Smithsonian National Museum of African American History -- the multilevel gallery displays that smash traditional hierarchies of white supremacist storytelling?

Anonymous said…
Building Project: September 29 Update
September 29, 2020
This week, hear from curators about how they are looking forward to working together in the David Geffen Galleries at LACMA, opening in 2024. How will art from all cultures and periods be seen in the new building? Find out in A Vision of Honoring All the World's Artistic Traditions, part of a series of short videos about the new building coming to our campus. Stay tuned for other videos in the series.

Construction Update

The following work will be conducted this week:

Major structural demolition of the Ahmanson Building is complete.
Removal of foundations of the Art of the Americas Building and the Ahmanson Building will continue.
Final testing of site utilities installations north of Wilshire Boulevard is complete.
Shoring installations and excavation at the Spaulding Lot will continue.
Foundations installation will commence at the Spaulding Lot.
Construction Hours

Monday–Friday: 7 am–7 pm

Saturday: 8 am–6 pm
Anonymous said…
Sounds like Princeton fell into the gaping maw that is artspeak gobbledygook that Govan has mastered to sell a bunch of hokum and where any real forward thinking art movements go to die.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
> the multilevel gallery displays that
> smash traditional hierarchies of white
> supremacist storytelling?

Probably would have been better to keep the local cultural scene so mediocre and half-crocked to everyone, that all peoples - regardless of race or background - could have continued to dismiss LA as what Woody Allen said about it years ago. Or the only cultural advantage about it being able to turn right on a red light.

Speaking of red, we're going to see a lot more of that in the future. All the red ink from the Govan/Zumthor debacle. And LACMA's trustees will need to do a lot more than sell the director's mansion in order to make that red less red.
Anonymous said…
^^^Sounds like some of you were NOT smart enough to get into Princeton, Yale, or Harvard.

As to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, it does not have an "encyclopedic" collection. The legacy of white privilege is outside the building, not inside it. There were no internal hierarchies to dismantle. Thus, it's a false equivalency to compare the two buildings in order to suggest that Adjaye is contradicting himself.

Adjaye knows what he is doing, just like Princeton knows what it is doing. If some of you want to overcome your ignorance, listen or read the supporting material that Princeton created to explain its decision to build a museum with a single display level. Here is the link:
Watch the lecture "The Politics and Poetics of Museum Design and Display. You might learn something.

There is intellectual support for what LACMA is doing --- MOMA, the Met, and now Princeton. The Save-LACMA mob continues to look like rubes by claiming otherwise.

Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Isn’t it ironic that wee Mikey Govan is being forced out of his big fancy playpen of a home, making him store all of his contemporary collection of toys? Maybe if his LACMA board of parents moved him into a smaller and more expensive playpen that would’ve been most ironic, but it sounds like they’re just trying to squeeze him out.
Anonymous said…
^^^ Pissy-pants Joe is ignorant. It's hilarious how the Save-LACMA mob believes everything he writes:

Problematizing the Encyclopedic Museum: The Benin Bronzes and Ivories in Historical Context (2018) — Neil Brodie, School of Archaeology, Oxford:

But what is really at stake here, once more, is the nature of discourse. The justification for the encyclopedic museum constructs a cultural field around issues of art and access. In so doing, it excludes arguments or viewpoints derived from a more historical understanding of events. In its mystifying effect, substituting culture for history, advancing art before politics, it imitates, if not intentionally or reflexively, the imperial discourse of late-nineteenth century Britain with its confusion of commerce and civilization. Kenneth Coutts-Smith characterized this twentieth-century rendering of the “extra-historicity of art” as an exercise in “cultural colonialism”, something far removed from the discursive masquerade of cultural internationalism.
Anonymous said…
> There is intellectual support for what LACMA is doing

Oh, how worldly, debonair and sophisticated you are.

You're such a white supremacist, you're forcing a wildly overly expensive debacle on the sad, income-struggling, browbeaten proletariat taxpayers of LA County, many of whom are non-white.

"Let them eat cake."

You and all the other elitists in the Govan/Zumthor cabal need a "No Justice, No Peace" two-by-four knocked upside your skull.
Anonymous said…
Stop co-opting the BLM movement.
The BLM movement is not on the side of the Save-LACMA mob.
The BLM movement has also taken aim at the "encyclopedic" museum:

"These men who defined the Enlightenment, constructed its hierarchies and categories, these intellectuals who laid out the framework of modern law, morality and its identified metaphysics – looked upon Africa, a well-populated and varied-cultured continent, and saw in its peoples nothing – a void, a cultural tabula rasa – silence. It made colonialism, and the imposition of Western cultural norms, seem like a kindness.

[...] The Enlightenment is the period in which the museum sector was born and alongside it was the intellectual apparatus of race and racism."

--- Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of the V&A East

Anonymous said…
> Stop co-opting the BLM movement.
> The BLM movement is not on the side of the
> Save-LACMA mob. The BLM movement has also
> taken aim at the "encyclopedic" museum

You better believe the BLM doesn't want a bunch of latte liberals grabbing big taxpayer money - millions of dollars from hard-working, lower-income, non-white LA County residents - and funneling it into a sassy, indulgent, non-transparent plaything of the white-supremacist Govan/Zumthor crowd.

You deserve a two-by-four slapped upside your "let them eat cake" head.