See that parking lot beside Disney Hall? It’s the future downtown L.A. site of Eli Broad’s contemporary art museum.
As Willy Wonka (in the earthly form of Gene Wilder) said when regarding a young, rotund Augustus Gloop lodged in his chocolate-filled plumbing system, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.” That encapsulates our enduring fascination with billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad‘s protracted plan to build a contemporary art museum. The site (Beverly Hills? Santa Monica? Los Angeles?) and architect (Rem Koolhaas? SANAA? Herzog & de Meuron?) of the place have been the subject of rampant speculation, whispering, and gossip since Broad’s 2008 announcement that he would not be donating his or his foundation’s art collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for which he had just funded a $56 million Renzo Piano-designed addition. The rumors we told you about a couple of months ago are true, and now it’s official: the museum will be located in downtown Los Angeles and will be designed by New York architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Gensler will be the executive architect on the project, which will deplete Broad’s personal bank account by an estimated $300 million.
The approximately 120,000-square-foot museum will be located on Grand Avenue, next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the exuberant steel swoops of Gehry’s structure factored into his decision to go with Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “We didn’t want it to clash, but we didn’t want it to be anonymous either,” said Broad yesterday. “Diller Scofidio prevailed by focusing its design attention not on sculptural form but on a smart if showy conceptual clash between public and private visions of L.A. culture,” writes architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne in today’s Los Angeles Times. “The most dramatic element of the firm’s proposal—its wow moment—is a lobby space that will bring pedestrians entering the museum from Grand Avenue face to face, through glass, with drivers on their way down to the museum’s parking garage.” Groundbreaking on the building is slated for October, with the goal of opening to the public in late 2012. Here’s hoping that Broad launches a global contest to dole out coveted places at the grand opening. Golden tickets, anyone?
Previously on UnBeige: