The Architect’s Newspaper talks to Peter Zumthor and Michael Govan about their plans for re-building LACMA:
It’s pretty clear that over time we’ll need to do something major with our old campus. In the old buildings, the systems are old and [today there are] different earthquake standards and all that. […] You’re catching us in the earliest phases of thinking. I mean, right now we’re spending time looking at gardens. The other day we walked through the Huntington Gardens looking at all kinds of palm trees. In other words, we’re soaking up ambiance and ideas. […]
We can’t even assume we’ll have Zumthor design one big building. We may keep some of what we have, restore them a bit, keep history, you know? Obviously the Bruce Goff with Bart Prince [Pavilion for Japanese Art] is a real keeper. Everybody agrees on that. We have property across Wilshire too, so it’s just been a totally creative situation.
But one thing I think makes a lot of sense is to create indoor/outdoor space. We’re trying to emphasize the park and the outdoor spaces more, and I think you’ll see that as part of it, something uniquely Los Angeles. We’re already trying to create a more LA-looking place. With symbols and icons and things that people would recognize as Los Angeles, instead of being a copy of someplace else.
We’d like to more fully embrace the [adjacent] Natural History museum and the tar pits. It’s a folly; it’s an artistic folly in its own right. A magnet for families and visitors that talks about the locality. And in a down economy, when there aren’t millions and billions for building, it’s a very good time to spend time thinking. As you know, if you know Peter’s work, the design time is fairly long anyway.
There will also be space for atmospheres. We’re talking about building into the architecture a critical thread. A dark space. A line going through the museum in which you can make critical commentaries on the art, by using photography, film, drawing, etc. So a complex cellular idea starts to develop in my mind—and I have no damn idea of what this will be architecturally! I know about the “architectural tissue” for the building, but I have no idea how this could be done in real architecture!
Michael knows I need two to three years to come up with the solutions, and this is a ten-year project. But when he approaches funders they’ll want to see drawings in half a year at the latest. So we’re starting now so that when he’s ready to go to funders, we’ll be prepared.
Also, we should think about conservation and storage and all that, and of course those people should get a presence in the building. And then Michael says things like, “It has to appeal to children! It would be a great thing if a million children came to visit, maybe two million!” Nobody in Europe would ever talk about that.
I think a very interesting part will be the early American art, colonial art—it’s filled with lies. So we’ll have to introduce contemporary art, such as film and so on to comment on it, because the whole thing has to be true. And I think I would like to talk about when American art became a part of the world in the 1960s in a big way, and many of these artists were Californians. So it’s fascinating and exciting. In the end, it could have intellectual and emotional parts—to make relationships across different kinds of art.
A Bolt of Zumthor (The Architect’s Newspaper)
HT: Culture Monster