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The latest rendering for the new LACMA building spanning Wilshire Boulevard. Photo: Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner.

Los Angeles County Votes in Favor of LACMA’s New $650 Million Building

Despite criticism of the latest revision to Peter Zumthor’s designs for the new $650 million home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously in favor of the project.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the five supervisors signed off on the institution’s plan to raze its four existing buildings and approved the allocation of $117.5 million in funds for the construction of its new structure at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Following the release of an environmental impact report last month, the design for the new building, which spans Wilshire Boulevard, raised concerns. The most recent renderings depicted a scaled-down structure. While the aesthetics of the building remained the same, the proposed structure is about forty thousand square feet smaller than the original design, and its maximum height was reduced from eighty-five feet to sixty.

Among those opposed to the new building is Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight, who penned an op-ed on Saturday that urged the board to reject the museum’s proposal, citing the cost to build, the limitations of the design, and the need to keep the institution as an encyclopedic museum.

Director Michael Govan told the publication that it would cost approximately $1,873 per square foot to realize the project but has emphasized that more than 80 percent of the funds were raised from private donors. In comparison, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s new building cost roughly $1,384 per square foot, and the Broad Museum cost around $1,260 per square foot. (The prices have been adjusted for inflation.)

Govan defended the design in his own op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, which is titled “LACMA’s New Building Is Visionary—and Big Enough.” Art-world figures and celebrities who attended the board meeting to show their support included artist Thomas Houseago, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures firector Kerry Brougher, Vincent Price Art Museum director Pilar Tompkins Rivas, actor Brad Pitt, and actor Diane Keaton.

While the proposal still needs to be passed by the city of Los Angeles, which owns the airspace above the museum, LACMA said it expects to break ground on the new building in 2020. 

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