Representatives of LACMA presented the latest design of the proposed project to replace all but three buildings on the LACMA campus to members of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee at its December meeting on Tuesday evening. The design of the project has evolved significantly since it was initially announced in 2013.
Reneé Schellaci, a consultant for LACMA, began the presentation by explaining the project was driven by several factors. First, there are seismic issues in several of the older buildings on the campus, which LACMA officials estimate would cost more than $250 million to repair. Second, museum leaders have long wanted to improve the visitor experience and organize the collections by cultures, giving each equal footing.
Initially the new building was planned to cover part of the La Brea Tar Pits, an active excavation site of ice age fossils unique in the world. After meeting with scientists at the Natural History Museum, however, the design was changed to bridge across Wilshire Blvd. instead.
Though an overall reduction in space for the facility, about 5300 square feet less than its current buildings, the new museum building – at 387,500 square feet – is designed to be a replacement for the current campus, and would be better organized and more accessible to visitors.
The new building is composed of seven semi-transparent pavilions that support an elevated, organically shaped, and translucent main exhibition level. The main exhibition level would extend over Wilshire Boulevard to the Spaulding lot on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Spaulding Avenue, according to LACMA.
“The horizontal design allows us to present the collections equally because there’s no front door or back door,” explained Schellaci. “All the fortress elements of the current museum go away, and we open up 3.5 acres of new public outdoor space in Hancock Park to the public.”
The GWNC Land Use Committee invited LACAM to present the project last week, since the Draft Environmental Impact Report comment period had expired and the committee had not heard a formal presentation of the project.
A team of five consultants, including LACMA General Counsel Fred Goldstein, attended the meeting and assured the committee that opportunities for public comment remain open. Since most of the museum sits on county land, the County of Los Angeles is managing the EIR process now that it is moving into the final report stage. However, comments can still be directed to Perter Burgis 213-974-1417; [email protected].
The City of Los Angeles will be managing the review process for the portion of the building that crosses Wilshire Blvd. Several committee members asked questions about the amount of time Wilshire would be closed for the construction. Mr. Goldstein said they expected it would be one or two weekends at the most, depending on how the construction was done.
He also said he gets many questions about what it will look like, and how the building will feel to people on the ground level. The latest renderings show the building as much lighter and with more glass than in previous drawings.
“People will able to walk around Hancock Park and see art without even going into the museum,” said Goldstein.
The new outdoor spaces in Hancock Park will keep the same hours, 6 am – 10 pm, and the fence will be maintained. Goldstein explained that the park will be open longer than the museum but not all night long.
“It’s a county park, there’s a lot of country art, there are lots of fossils and tar they want to protect, so it’s just not feasible to be open all the time,” explained Goldstein.
He assured the committee there would be no electronic signs, and that they have made every effort to move the most active parts of the building on Spaulding to the Wilshire side, to accommodate the neighbors. In addition, there will a landscaping screen between the museum and neighbors south of Wilshire Blvd. All traffic will be directed to turn from Spaulding to Wilshire, reducing traffic down Spaulding.
Demolition and construction of the project is anticipated to commence in the summer or fall of 2018, and to be completed in time for the opening of the new Metro Purple Line subway, directly across from the museum, in 2023.
The West campus of LACMA, BCAM, the Resnick Pavilion, and the Pritzker Parking Garage, as well as the Pavilion for Japanese Art, will be open throughout construction. For more information on the project visit the LACMA website or call 323-866-0885.
In other business, the Land Use Committee voted last night to recommend that the GWNC board oppose endorsing at this time a project at 5122 W. Maplewood Ave., which would demolish a single family residence and one duplex for new construction of a five story, 24 residential unit building that would set aside 2 Extremely Low Income units. All the other units would be subject to rent control. Local density bonuses for transit oriented locations would allow the developers to increase the project’s density from 16 to 24 units, reduce side setbacks and open space requirements, and reduce parking to 31 on-site parking spaces. DIR-2017- 4551-TOC, ENV-2017-4552-EAF.
The committee asked the developers to get letters of support from the nearby neighborhood associations and come back with updates on their project.
The next meeting of the Land Use Committee is scheduled for January 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm. For more information visit their website at www.greaterwilshire.org