L.A. County Supervisors Approve Funds for the $650 Million New LACMA Building

  • Rendering for a new LACMA building

    Rendering for a new LACMA building

    Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner/The Boundary

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to provide $117.5 million in county funding to move forward LACMA's new building plan. The total cost estimate for the project is $650 million, to be largely culled from private donations. Art-loving actors Brad Pitt and Diane Keaton helped make the case for the museum, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The structure would replace four older ones from the 1960s that are outdated and too expensive to renovate, according to LACMA director and CEO Michael Govan.

"It's four-to-one private money," Govan notes. "The taxpayers' money is a fraction. In fact, the taxpayers are investing far less than half of what it would cost them to repair the visible repairs of the old buildings that the county owns."

Museum officials maintain that private donors will be more energized with funding a new building as opposed to trying the revamp the old structures, which could cost around $500 million.

Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has come up with a few designs for the new building, including an early iteration that played off the dark color and fluid shape of the nearby La Brea Tar Pits. The latest design has a beige building crossing over Wilshire Boulevard, but what has really irked critics is that the space is smaller than LACMA's current galleries. The latest plan has 110,000 square feet — down from 121,000 square feet.

After the county meeting Govan said in a statement: “We are tremendously grateful to the County for its consistent support of our project, as well as to the generous leaders of the campaign, who have made significant pledges to make this building a reality. And thanks to the thoughtful comments by members of the community, the design of the building has become simpler, more beautiful, more transparent, with enhanced access to the park.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti commented on Twitter: "The visionary plan for @LACMA is essential to the future of our Miracle Mile — creating a world-class cultural destination for Angelenos and visitors with iconic architecture, more green space, access to public transit, and a better museum experience."

LACMA has so far raised $560 million in its capital campaign. Coming plans are to break ground in 2020, with a public opening in 2024.

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