The Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation is set to make the vacant Scottish Rite Masonic Temple at 4357 Wilshire Blvd. its home for an extensive, private Modern Art collection of contemporary works from around the world. The Marciano Brothers, founders of the Guess? clothing line, bought the property back in July 2013 to house their private collection. It is expected to be closed to the public except by private appointment.
Representatives from Why Design presented plans for the private museum to the Design Review Board (DRB) of the Park Mile Specific Plan on Thursday last week. The Foundation is requesting the City approve a Change of Use on the site to “Non-Profit Museum” use as allowed by its Limited Commercial Zone zoning, and asked the DRB to approve its renovation plans for the building designed by Millard Sheets and built in 1961. The DRB unanimously approved the proposed plans for the site, which will now go before City Planning.
Planned exterior renovations will be minimal. The site’s murals, mosaics and statues will remain intact. Earlier plans to add windows to the fortress-like three story (plus lower level) property were scrapped due to high cost and disfavor by the DRB Board in earlier discussions. Exterior alterations include a remodeled “Sculpture Entry Court” on the west portion of the property along Lucerne Blvd, a new balcony railing on the top floor along the north side of the building, and a new door from the parking lot to allow for moving large pieces of artwork in and out.
Inside, the sloped floor and the mezzanine of the auditorium will be removed and the approximately 100′ x 100′ room will become the main gallery space of the museum, reaching two stories high. The former side meeting rooms and offices will all be renovated as multi-purpose rooms, offices and storage areas for the museum.
Responding to the surrounding Windsor Square community’s concern that the property not become a busy public venue with limited parking, the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation noted in their proposal that if anything, parking and traffic will be downsized:
Parking and traffic will also be reduced from the current use. As an Art Foundation, the building will have just a handful of workers on most days. On special event days it is anticipated the on-site parking spaces – approximately 200 spaces – will be utilized, possibly with valet services. No new parking will be built. In fact the current parking lot will be downsized and supplemented with outdoor sculptures placed uniquely through the existing lot, visually enhancing it.
The surrounding Windsor Square neighborhood will get what it wanted: the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple looking as it always has from the outside with a few improvements and more care and upkeep, and no increase in traffic due to visitors and events. It will remain as it always has – an elite property, inaccessible to the general public, except perhaps at a few appointed times each year. The impenetrable fortress on Wilshire.
Read more about the building and its history:
Los Angeles Conservancy: Scottish Rite Masonic Temple