The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to both certify the final environmental impact report for LACMA's Peter Zumthor-designed rebuild and authorize up to $117 million in public funding for the project.
The Building for the Permanent Collection, as the project is known, is imagined as a two-story structure spanning across Wilshire Boulevard from the existing museum campus to a site that is currently a surface parking lot. Plans call for approximately 350,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well as approximately 2.5 acres of new open space at ground level around the perimeter of the museum.
In addition to $117-million contribution, the second installment of $125-million in public money set aside for the project, the Supervisors will also issue $300-million in bond proceeds to fund construction. The bond proceeds are to be repaid through LACMA's fundraising efforts.
To date, LACMA has secured pledges of $433 million for the project out of a total goal of $525 million - including a $150-million naming gift from movie producer David Geffen. LACMA has collected $82 million of the $433 million pledged funds, according to a staff report to the Supervisors.
Since plans for the new building were announced in 2013, Zumthor's designs for the project have gone through multiple iterations. The current version, budgeted at $650 million, would result in a building that is 10,000 square feet smaller than LACMA's current facility. Critics with the Los Angeles Times, The Architects Newspaper, and Curbed have all called for the project to be canceled.
A statement issued by LACMA Director Michael Govan - and later reiterated in an op-ed in defense of the Zumthor building - notes that though the project may result in a slight downsizing of the campus, the proposed building would include seismic base-isolation, which would better protect people and artwork in the event of an earthquake. He goes on to note that LACMA has already gone other expansions within the past decade, most notably the Resnick Pavilion, which added 100,000 square feet of gallery and public program space to the campus.
The museum has also announced plans to open up to five 50,000-square-foot satellite campuses in Los Angeles County, including South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
In offering support for the project, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas framed LACMA as a cornerstone of Los Angeles County's creative economy, stating that the new facility would protect the museum's collection and allow it to continue in its mission for years to come.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose 3rd District includes LACMA, appreciated that the proposed structure would bridge across Wilshire Boulevard, despite criticism of that design feature.
Board Chair Janice Hahn described the project as a worthy home for the "largest art collection west of the Mississippi River," but also encouraged continued investments in satellite campuses across Los Angeles County.
Public comment, which included statements from actors Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton, ranged from staunch support to outright opposition.
Pitt, who expressed admiration for LACMA Director Govan, urged the approval of the project.
Keaton, a preservationist who sits on the board of the Los Angeles Conservancy, also expressed support for the project, which would replace buildings designed by noted architects William Pereira and Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer.
Milton Curry, Dean of the USC School of Architecture, praised the Zumthor building and proposed satellite campuses as a "radical" response to the unique geography of Los Angeles.
Opponents of the project cited a lack of transparency in the process of developing the new building, including the lack of a design competition prior to Zumthror's selection as architect. Others urged the preservation and restoration of the Pereira- and Hady Holzman Pfeiffer-designed buildings.
Work for the Zumthor building is anticipated to occur over approximately 51 months, beginning in early 2020 and concluding in mid-2023.
- LACMA (Urbanize LA)