Broad-minded: design for downtown L.A. museum revealed

Way back in August, NBC Los Angeles spread the news that downtown L.A.’s skyline is expecting a new arrival – the Broad Museum, which will house the collection of American philanthropist and art collector Eli Broad (pronounced like “road”, according to his Wikipedia page).

It’s a thrilling acquisition for downtown L.A., which, while rich in architectural treasures and cultural attractions (like the brilliant L.A. Opera headed by Placido Domingo or the stunning Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry), sometimes suffers a lack of foot traffic, particularly during the summer months.

The project is, ideologically speaking, part of an effort to revive the American civic center.  When Broad announced the location of the museum, he explicitly stated that, “We believe in downtown”.   While, even in cultural meccas like L.A., not everyone goes to the opera, a museum like the Broad should reach a much larger audience of tourists and locals.

Broad’s collection includes a dazzling treasure-trove of classic mid-century Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.  The works of not-so-avante-garde-anymore Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Koons,  Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst and others will be thrillingly familiar to even the most elementary of modern art-history scholars (we’re talking 20th-Century Survey 101 here).

Just this week, posted computer-generated images of the museum’s proposed design, and it’s terribly “modern”, to say the least.  While the design – by famed NYC design firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro – has garnered muted praise from many architectural critics (this review from the L.A. Times basically says that, while it doesn’t live up to the firm’s reputation, its “beauty and simplicity” create “much to admire”).

Peruse the comments section of the feature, however, and you’ll find less-flattering reviews – comparisons have been made to pigeon coops, airport terminals, Austin Powers movies, cheese graters, an “alien lizard ship”, and more.  What do YOU think, California?


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