Zumthor Overpass Rises

Won't the underside of Zumthor-LACMA be dark, like a freeway overpass? Skeptics have asked that question since Peter Zumthor proposed a new permanent collection building spanning Wilshire. You can now start to get a sense of the street-level ground truth. 

Construction workers have recently put up steel falsework to support construction of the concrete overpass. LACMA says the falsework is "approximately 3 to 4 feet lower than the building will be." The falsework currently covers the south half of Wilshire and will be followed by a second phase on the north side. All the steel will be removed after the overpass is in place. 

The underside of the building—to be called the David Geffen Galleries—will thus be a few feet higher and lighter colored than the falsework; but continuous and spanning all of Wilshire.

The overall effect (now) is more pergola than overpass. I'm reminded of the space under Jersey shore boardwalks, deep shadow with blaring sunlight from the sides.

Interstate highways require a vertical clearance of 16 ft. The Zumthor project's 2019 Environmental Impact Report said the underside of the structure would be 19 to 23 feet above street level, reflecting a slight incline. That implies the building would be higher than a typical highway overpass, though not dramatically so. 


Oh, no! I'm an Atlantic City native, so I know from "the space under Jersey shore boardwalks."
We don't want that.
LACMA must consider the museum's underside as a blank canvas. Commission a modern-day Dan Flavin or someone who can make an icon becoming of a major city's major museum.
Tokyoites don't abide darkness in public spaces. Why is LA different?
Come on, people. Do something to supplant your Hollywood sign as the city's signature symbol.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime.
PS- And no. Nothing that will cause accidents or jams.
Anonymous said…
The proportions might be classically inspired. (I guess no one here took a class on Classical architecture.)

The Arch of Titus (Rome) is about 50 feet high and its inner archway is 27 feet high.

Here the building overall is 50 feet high, with spans of 19 to 23 to 27 feet. The 27-foot spans are on the northwest side of the building.

I gleaned the 27-foot height from the project description of the glass contractor (Seele).

Anonymous said…
Judging from the 6th street bridge and the OC museum, and how rough and unfinished they ended up being I’m worried about shoddy American craftsmanship. Zumthor’s building is just concrete so it’s going to be all about the finer details. And who knows if Americans are talented enough or detailed enough to pull off what Europeans can do.
Anonymous said…
I'm guessing it will end up having the same look and feel of this street in LA's downtown:


There isn't enough land north of Wilshire Blvd, so the architect and his client were forced to go south of it. Beyond that, LACMA has a very strong budget and Harvard-sized endowment fund. The museum also really doesn't need more acquisitions. Besides, the new building is quite large and LACMA's collections make even the Louvre envious.

Davart said…

This link shows the latest construction of falsework beginning to cross Wilshire Blvd. Excellent drone footage
Douglas said…
Is the shade/cover necessarily bad? Given how hot and sunny LA gets in summer and how it's only going to get hotter, it seems quite sensible to have more shaded public spaces in central LA (especially if we get transportation reform to reduce driving, which please do not @ me on this). Plus a covered/shaded space could be very good for things like an outdoor cafe/beer garden, seating, events, and the like especially if by some miracle every once in a while the city agrees to close off part of Wilshire.
Anonymous said…
If the city plays nice and occasionally closes off part of Wilshire, it is primarily the pleasant and historic residential boulevards and drives that will be choking on traffic. Most of those streets are two lanes at best. Nice for the tourists and other visitors to enjoy an espresso on Wilshire, not so nice for the rest of us. Trust me, we've had to deal with it before.