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Latest LACMA redesign swaps colors from tar to sand

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

On Wednesday, LACMA director and CEO Michael Govan sat down with Peter Zumthor to discuss the Swiss architect's redesign for the museum as part of a public lecture series. The two spoke extensively about the philosophy and evolution of the design, including one particularly massive shift: a switch from a black color scheme to a much lighter tan one.

All photographs courtesy Atelier Peter Zumthor.

Latest redesign
2016 redesign

LACMA's Unframed blog notes that Zumthor wanted the building to appear more "elemental, with a mineral tone, very substantial but not slick, and to make the outside feel like the inside."

It's the latest in a series of revisions to the design plans, all of which have called for demolishing four disconnected buildings on LACMA's eastern campus in favor of a single structure to house LACMA's permanent collection. What started as an amorphous tar-like blob and transitioned into a more streamlined Wilshire Boulevard-spanning pavilion has now added a temple-like quality to its aesthetic.

The general layout of the pavilion-based design is largely unchanged compared to last August's update, aside from a slightly tweaked contour and the seeming consolidation of two of those pillar-like pavilions.

Construction on the $600-million project—80 percent funded by private donations and 20 percent by the county, which will own the building—will begin in the second half of 2018, just as the neighboring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opens. It's expected to wrap up by 2023, in conjunction with Metro's Purple Line extension across the street.

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