The latest addition to Museum Row, the colorful, temporary Serpentine Pavilion, opened this week on the grassy ellipse in Hancock Park at the La Brea Tar Pits.
In partnership with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County which operates the Tar Pits, Second Home, a London-based workspace company, has reinstalled the pavilion, which was originally commissioned in 2015 by the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park. It now sits in the 16-acre park that’s home to both LACMA and the active Ice Age fossil site in the heart of LA. The Second Home Serpentine Pavilion will be open to the public free of charge now through November 24, 2019 and will feature public programs and events focusing on the intersection of art, design, science and nature, co-organized by Second Home and NMHLAC.
NHMLAC President and Director Lori Bettison-Varga told more than 100 press and influencers invited to tour the pavilion Thursday morning that “what we have here isn’t such a big stretch for us,” noting that when NHMLAC was founded in 1913, it was the Los Angeles County Museum of Science, History and Art. The museum was divided in 1961 when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) was formed and moved to its current site in Hancock Park on Wilshire Boulevard in 1965.
“It is fitting that the La Brea Tar Pits is the site for this new hub of exploration and discovery; a convergence of science, nature, design and art. La Brea Tar Pits is the only active internationally renowned site of paleontological research in the world, and it is in the heart of this amazing city,” said Bettison-Varga.
Bettison-Varga said the Second Home Pavilion is an excellent way to engage neighbors and visitors alike in celebrating a blend of science and art programs the museum has planned for the summer, including a neighborhood preview party held Thursday evening in collaboration with the MidCity West Community Council and LACMA. The event included a tour of the park guided by artist Carl Chang and Tar Pits Assistant Curator Dr. Emily Lindsey.
Recently, the museum also embarked on a masterplanning project to re-imagine La Brea Tar Pits to explore ways to activate the park for residents. Bettison-Varga said the organization will be sharing preliminary concepts developed by three design firms with the public later this summer. (She also sat down with the Buzz earlier on Thursday morning to discuss the masterplanning process, so we’ll have more to report on that soon.)
At the pavilion preview, Bettison-Varga welcomed Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton, founders of Second Home, to speak about bringing the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Madrid-based architectural firm selgascano, founded in 1988 by partners José Selgas and Lucía Cano, to LA. Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva described the company as an “antidote to WeWork,” offering innovative workspaces that are open to a wide range of entrepreneurs. The firm is opening its first creative workspace in the U.S. in September, called Second Home Hollywood. They have hired the selgascano architects to renovate the former Anne Banning Community House at 1370 N St. Andrews Place, designed by Paul R. Williams for the Assistance League of Southern California in 1961.
Speaking of the Serpentine Pavilion, Silva said, “We are guided by a simple principle – we believe that diversity makes creativity stronger — so it was incredibly important that this project be open, civic and free of charge, and you couldn’t imagine a better partner than the civic institution that is the Natural History Museum.” He added he is deeply grateful to the architects for making the installation of the pavilion happen in the civic space of Hancock Park. The 866-square-foot pavilion is the first Serpentine Pavilion to be publicly installed in the US. It was designed in 2015 by selgascano for the 15th annual presentation of the prestigious Serpentine Gallery program that showcases the boldest and most innovative designs in contemporary architecture.
Following the design team’s remarks, LA’s Chief Design Officer Christopher Hawthorne moderated a conversation with architects José Selgas, Lucía Cano and Diego Cano about the design and construction of the colorful pavilion, which is constructed of translucent, multi-colored Ethylene Tetraflouroethylene (ETFE) iridescent film, wrapped around a steel frame. Selgas said the pavilion is exactly the same as the original constructed in Hyde Park except it is less waterproof, and more open to the sun and the air, which is appropriate for our sunnier climate. The pavilion can accommodate up to 300 people standing and moving about the space; 200 people seated for a concert; 175 people seated for a screening; and 100 – 120 people for various eating configurations.
Visit the Tar Pits’ Serpentine Pavilion page for more information on Pavilion programing and to reserve timed tickets for free tours.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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