Broad Museum design unveiled
The much anticipated design for Eli Broad’s new downtown Los Angeles museum was unveiled Thursday at a press conference held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The design, by New York architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is based on the concept of ‘the veil and the vault’ where the gallery (the veil) and the archive (the vault) are given equal play in the building with the archive treated as a main event around which the rest of the museum spaces are organised.
This inventive take on program space, where space typically relegated to secondary status is elevated to prime time, has become a sort of calling card for the derring-do designers who, in doing so, allow the public to see the familiar anew, much in a Duchampian way where a subversive action like dubbing a urinal a fountain challenges conventional wisdom.
With this as a point of departure, the architects have placed the archive midway in the building and surrounded the heavy opaque mass with an ethereal, transparent structure, the porosity of which is intended to dissolve the boundary between building and urban space while rendering the archive visible at all times.
The archive plays a key role in shaping the museum experience from entrance to exit. It is enveloped on all sides by an airy exoskeleton structure of honeycomb concrete that spans across the block-long building and lifts almost effortlessly at the building’s corners to reveal the building’s entrance.
From the lobby space, visitors are drawn upwards via escalator, tunneling through the archive, before reaching the exhibition floor, an acre of column free space that can be configured according to curatorial needs. Departure from the galleries is through a winding stair that offers glimpses into the museum’s vast holdings.
The three-storey museum, to be located next to Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, is estimated to cost $130m.