An Unbecoming Museum Plan for L.A.
Re “The Rise and Stall of LACMA’s Planned Reinvention,” Dec. 26: At last some force has come along and killed the truly awful Rem Koolhaas design for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In this case it is the worsening economy that has dried up donations for the planned razing of the existing structures in favor of the pretentious and totally pedestrian scheme of smug Dutch architect Koolhaas, who would replace the current mishmash of buildings with something worse, a giant shoebox with a stretched tent over it that looks like a throwback to Disneyland’s 1970s vision of the future.
The undertone of the article that went unsaid, but I’ll say here, is that the moneyed elite, which is counted upon to deliver about $200 million of the money, doesn’t like Koolhaas’ design and hence is withholding its donations. This is Southern California, and the architecture of LACMA should reflect the region and its people. The best examples of architecture in Los Angeles are by Paul Williams, who fully understood understatement, indoor-outdoor living, setbacks, beautiful landscaping, water features and refinement. Koolhaas would give us a sterile tomb for our city’s art. The fates have spoken; LACMA, heed the message and dump the Koolhaas design for good.
You ask, “How does a $400-million project ... go from fast-forward to pause in 364 days?”
I have better questions: Who had the audacity to suggest that $400 million was ever anything but an obscene amount of money for a museum to spend to have a nicer place to hang its pictures?
What collection-enhancing pieces could be acquired for a tiny fraction of that amount? What visitor improvements, what curatorial and preservation improvements, what education and outreach programs?
And how much good could that much money do in the greater Los Angeles community, where philanthropy can be purchased $1,000 or $10 at a time? How many worthwhile projects would be swept away because of the disappearance of $400 million? Tough times and tight wallets? Nope. Try ego and hubris.