Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Construction is abundant across Los Angeles right now, and amid the backhoes and the cranes we are seeing signs of fresh takes on expressive architecture: glass domes, geometric facades, soaring arches. Charges of elitism swirl around big-time architecture, but many of the new designs opening this season promise to advance cultural and social life in L.A., whether with a riverside park that filters rainwater or a campus crafted to uplift the lives of LGBTQ homeless youth.

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This is a tale about a blob in a park. Or, this is a tale about a blob in a park with a bridge. Or the tale of a blob in a park, a bridge, and a tower designed by LA’s most famous architect. Or, it’s the tale about a city and a blob in a park, a bridge, a tower, a lacklustre sphere, and a subway stop. It’s a cautionary tale.

In late June the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) releasedPeter Zumthor’s revised design for its new museum buildingHis earlier preliminary design, a self-described “black flower” raised some 30 feet above the ground on oversized glass footings, oozed a wee too close to the La Brea Tar Pits that inspired its undulating form. Leadership at the Page Museum, which actively uses the pits for research, expressed concern and asked Zumthor to back off. Squeezed in and smooched out, the new Schmoo-like scheme maintains the approximately 400,000 square feet required to display museum’s extensive collection, but it does so by stretching across Wilshire Boulevard to a piece of property that is currently a LACMA parking lot. Read More …