Citing Tar Pits, Zumthor Redraws LACMA Plan

via the New York Times

The Amoeba Has Morphed. [via the New York Times / Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partners]

One of the nice things about designing a museum that looks like an ink blot is that entire sections can be redrawn without completely scrapping the original plan. Such is the case with Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s proposed transformation of LACMA, according to the New York Times. His original design had been criticized by the Page Museum for impinging on the neighboring La Brea tar pits, which are still an active paleontological site. Museum officials were worried that the buildings’ overhang would block the sun and rain from reaching vegetation surrounding the pits. Competing with the pits was not something LACMA intended, says LACMA director Michael Govan, especially considering Zumthor’s design echoes their black and curvilinear forms.

The new design pulls the museum back from the pits and instead stretches it across Wilshire Boulevard. A quarter of the 400,000 square foot structure will now be placed on the south side of Wilshire, on the site of a parking lot owned by the museum. The original design called for the structure to be lifted off the ground on pylons, so straddling Wilshire, while a significant change, is not as radical as it might seem.

Considering that other institutions have recently turned a deaf ear to critics when planning expansions (Lowry & Co., this means you), it is encouraging that LACMA showed some consideration for their neighbor. Zumthor’s plan does call for the elimination of the original William Pereira building and a 1986 addition, but it is arguable whether these are worth saving. The real question now will be whether LACMA is able to raise the $650 million necessary to turn his design into a reality.

also by Matt Stromberg

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