Breathing fresh life into one of the city’s most ambitious cultural projects and making history as the largest gift on record toward the construction of an American museum, David Geffen has pledged $150 million to a new building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Geffen’s pledge raises LACMA’s fundraising total to $450 million of the $650 million needed to break ground on a modernist Peter Zumthor building, arguably the most anticipated new piece of architecture in L.A. since Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003.
The Zumthor building, to be named the David Geffen Galleries, has evolved from a black, amorphous design reminiscent of the nearby La Brea Tar Pits into a more muscular, sand-colored concrete structure that bridges Wilshire Boulevard. Beyond giving LACMA the kind of architectural presence that has become the norm for world-class art museums, the Zumthor project would further cement L.A.’s rising status as a cultural capital of international import.
The new LACMA structure will replace three original William Pereira buildings, completed in 1965 and often criticized for being too inaccessible, as well as a 1986 addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. Govan campaigned for the new construction, in part, by saying those buildings would soon need more than $300 million in upgrades and restoration if they were to remain standing.
LACMA’s groundbreaking, originally planned for 2018, is now scheduled for 2019, with completion slated for 2023 — around when the city aims to complete the Metro Purple Line light-rail extension along Wilshire Boulevard, with a stop across the street from the museum.
Los Angeles Times | October 4, 2017