Eli Broad favors Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design art museum on Bunker Hill, sources say


Eli Broad wants the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design his art museum on Bunker Hill, according to several sources.

The sources, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, citing the confidentiality of the private architectural competition Broad has been overseeing for the museum, said the billionaire philanthropist had indicated that he favored the firm after hearing pitches late last month from six of the leading architecture offices in the world. One of its founders, Elizabeth Diller, was reportedly due to arrive in Los Angeles on Monday evening for meetings with Broad.

Previously, The Times reported that he had narrowed the list for the museum, planned for a Grand Avenue site alongside Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, to two firms: Diller Scofidio and Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which is led by Rem Koolhaas.

The sources cautioned that Broad could still change his mind and pursue a design by one of the other architects, especially if a detailed cost analysis began to suggest that the Diller Scofidio plan would be more expensive to build than first thought. Broad also is waiting for approvals from city and county bodies to lease the Bunker Hill site for $1 per year for 99 years. The site is owned by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

Officially, in fact, Broad has said that a property in Santa Monica’s civic center is still an option as a site for the museum and that he will not make a decision on either the location or an architect until later this month, at the earliest.

“I can tell you he is considering six designs by six architects,” said Karen Denne, a spokeswoman for Broad.

Diller Scofidio designed Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, which opened in 2006, and is making ongoing updates to Lincoln Center in New York. It collaborated with landscape architecture firm Field Operations on New York’s acclaimed High Line elevated linear park. It is also on shortlists for a new UC Berkeley Art Museum and an addition to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The firm is known for highly inventive design solutions — some cerebral, some cheeky — including a planned inflatable event space that would expand to fill the circular courtyard of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. But it has yet to produce a building that entirely fulfills the terrific promise of its early conceptual work.