OCMA = Frankenbuilding, Says U.K. Critic

Orange County Museum of Art, Sep. 28, 2022. Note missing paneling on education wing at center

Oliver Wainwright, writing in The Guardian, faults the fit and finish of the Thom Mayne/Morphosis Orange County Museum of Art. The building ("an unfinished Frankenstein's monster") was opened before construction was fully complete, and builders are still working through a punch list of fixes. UK-based Wainwright snipes, "The US construction industry isn't known for its attention to detail, but this is something else."

I think the issue here is neither digitally designed "fractured geometries" nor shoddy U.S. construction, but rather the museum's decision to stick to an announced opening date. Either you disappoint a local community looking forward to an opening that had already been delayed multiple times; or you disappoint architecture critics and fans who want to see the building in its definitive state (and who may have travelled a long distance to do so). OCMA director Heidi Zuckerman chose the second option.

The paneling here is buckled (Sep. 28, 2022 photo)


The Guardian UK article shows a photo array of appalling and deplorable-quality work.
Architecture is not like cooking (recall Julia Child's maxim "No excuses, no explanations").
All I know is, per the apocryphal quote: "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do!"
Anonymous said…
The construction details do Look quite wonky or flaky. But I'm surprised that a newspaper in today's age and economy (based in the UK, no less) had one of its writers review a building in far-away Orange County, California.

Meanwhile, post-pandemic supply-chain deadlines and shortages have messed up the schedule of the Lucas museum, and I'd be surprised if Zumthor's overpass on Wilshire Blvd isn't similarly affected.
Anonymous said…
With the budget for this project, no one should be surprised that the execution was shoddy.

Even the Whitney Museum's new building had a few fit and finish issues with its complex geometry and its budget was $400+ million. (One or two of the flaws remain almost 8 years later.)

The client needs to be savvy. OCMA clearly was not. With forms like this, someone should have asked the architect about all the seams (joints). Some architect worry more than others about the mating of materials/surfaces. Mayne is not one of them. Zumthor is.

On that note, I predict that as the building ages there will be some water intrusion. I wonder if Ms. Zuckerman will be around when that happens.
Anonymous said…
Fit and finish issues and a staircase to nowhere:

"The design originally had a broad staircase running up from ground level to a public roof terrace, but conversations about ticketing and security scuppered that idea. Instead, a stunted remnant of the stair now lies in front of the museum, marooned like an abandoned fragment of another project, blocking the ground floor cafe and shop from view, and generally confusing visitors."

Even the OC deserves better...