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Holocaust Museum in Pan Pacific Park Wins Architecture Award

The LA Museum of the Holocaust, tucked into Pan Pacific Park at dusk. Photo courtesy of the AIA website.
The LA Museum of the Holocaust, tucked into Pan Pacific Park, at dusk. Photo courtesy of the AIA website: Photo credit: Iwan Baan & Benny Chan

Tucked into the hillside in the middle of Pan Pacific Park, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is so integrated into the existing landscape, many park visitors don’t even realize it’s there.

It is a modern amorphous structure that makes beautiful use of the setting in both physical and emotional ways, according to the American Institute of Architects  (AIA) that voted the museum a 2014 recipient of the Institute Honor Awards of Architecture.  As one juror for the AIA noted, “Descending into the museum is extremely important based on the physical, mental, and emotional transition one must go through in order to be prepared for the content.”

LA Museum of Holocaust2The museum, designed by Belzberg Architects Groupincludes a survivor presentation room, a children’s memorial, a library, and administrative and storage space.

To integrate the building into the open context, the structure was submerged. This strategy allowed the park’s landscape to continue over the museum’s roof, with existing pathways morphing to connect park users and museum visitors.

The building is the container for a non-linear story. The rooms are undivided, exhibit walls end before reaching the ceiling. The formed concrete roof is exposed inside the building, folding and compressing the space in response to the graphic intensity of the displays. The absolute-black smooth finish framing the displays creates a sharp contrast against the rough, exposed-concrete walls and ceiling. As visitors reach the end of the exhibits, which are organized chronologically, the space opens up again, letting daylight in and conveying a sense of relief. The concept behind this spatial dynamic is to reinforce the idea that the distance between normalcy and atrocity is indeed small.

(From the American Institute of Architects.)

LA Museum of Holocaust1Ready to explore the museum, both inside and out? Admission is free, and parking is easy in the Pan Pacific Park lot. The museum is open seven days a week.

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
100 S. Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Mon – Thu 10 am – 5 pm
Fri – 10 am – 2 pm
Sat – Sun 10 am – 5 pm

All photos © Iwan Baan & Benny Chan from the AIA website.

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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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