LA’s latest addition

Nick Myall
Monday 21 Sep 2015

A striking new museum in LA features two floors of gallery space to showcase the Broad’s comprehensive collection

Five years in the making, The Broad is designed by world-renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. The new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles, USA, was officially opened on 21 September.

Eli Broad, an 82-year-old housing tycoon turned serial philanthropist, has spent the last three decades breathing life into the long neglected core of LA, USA. His latest gift to the city is this 120,000 sq ft building that features two floors of gallery space to showcase the Broad’s comprehensive collection and is the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library. The museum is home to the nearly 2,000 works of art, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. 

Broad sees the new museum as, “the cultural crown of the downtown area of LA. With the opening of the Broad, LA has become without question the contemporary art capital of the world.” Situated just over the road from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall this area of Grand Avenue has been redeveloped with great style.

A striking concrete box perforated with thousands of angular holes that give it the look of a huge cheesegrater the building has also been affectionately compared to a mattress and even a lump of tripe.

One of the highlights of the museum is a third-floor gallery day-lit by numerous north-facing skylights and a fully-shaded glazed east wall. The shape of the skylight construction is configured to allow filtered daylight while preventing any direct sunlight. 

Dubbed “the veil and the vault,” the museum’s design merges the two key components of the building: public exhibition space and collection storage. Rather than relegate the storage to secondary status, the “vault,” plays a key role in shaping the museum experience from entry to exit. Its heavy opaque mass is always in view, hovering midway in the building. Its carved underside shapes the lobby below, while its top surface is the floor plate of the exhibition space. 

The vault stores the portions of the collection not on display in the galleries or on loan, but DS+R provided viewing windows so visitors can get a sense of the intensive depth of the collection and peer right into the storage holding. The vault is enveloped on all sides by the “veil,” an airy, honeycomb-like structure that spans across the block-long gallery and provides filtered natural daylight.

Nick Myall

News Editor

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