Broad museum is stripped of big ideas -- but may gain plaza and new urban energy


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So much for the prospect of cars and pedestrians coming face-to-face in the lobby of Eli Broad’s new museum in downtown Los Angeles. And so much for the idea of hanging large digital screens on the building’s exterior facades.

In news that will hardly surprise anyone who has closely followed Broad’s track record as an architectural patron, the design of the $130-million, three-story museum at 2nd Street and Grand Avenue, by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, looks bit more conventional than it did before the billionaire collector and philanthropist became actively involved with his architects. For practical and budgetary reasons, many of the daring ideas that helped DSR win Broad’s high-powered private competition for the museum last summer have been stripped away.


When Broad joins L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and DSR co-founder Elizabeth Diller for a news conference Thursday at Walt Disney Concert Hall, he’ll be unveiling a design that is more straightforward and even a bit more severe than we’ve come to expect from Diller’s firm, which designed the 2006 Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and collaborated with landscape firm Field Operations on the High Line elevated park in Manhattan, the second phase of which will open later this year.

Still, the news about the museum project is not all compromise and value-engineering. In a sign that Broad has been listening to criticism about the aloof, self-contained quality of so many architectural landmarks on Bunker Hill, he is expected to announce Thursday that he is working with city officials and developer Related Cos. to win approval to build a large new plaza wrapping two sides of the museum and to widen the sidewalks on both sides of Grand Avenue between 2nd and 4th streets.

For more on that emerging plan and on the architecture of the Broad museum, click here.

For a report by my colleague Mike Boehm, click here.

And stay tuned for more museum news, including additional renderings of the DSR design and comments from Diller about how the building will relate to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall next door, among other topics.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Rendering: Exterior of the planned museum and archive for the Broad Art Foundation downtown. Credit: Courtesy Broad Art Foundation/Diller Scofidio + Renfro.