HYPE AND HUSTLE CONTINUE TO THREATEN L.A. MUSEUM

 
The deadhead design duo of the suave Los Angeles museum director Michael Govan and his servile Swiss architect Peter Zumthor staged another dog and pony show recently promoting yet another variation on their immodest plans for a new County Museum.
 
As I declare on public radio 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites everywhere, it deserves an update. I feel its soaring price tag of $600 million dollar and-counting-proposal and accompanying machinations need constant exposure as a hustle, or it will suck up millions in public and private funds.
 
As for the politicians and public benefactors being socially and politically pressured to support the project in the name of culture, let me predict here in blunt English that in time I expect it will bite them on the ass.
 
I really don’t care about that, for it’s my long experience with self-anointed so-called community leaders that most have no shame. Added to this mix at LACMA is Govan’s edifice complex, which he apparently acquired years ago when involved with the Guggenheim museum developing the heralded Bilbao museum designed by Frank Gehry.
 
What I care about is that this planning and design conceit is a sorry waste of time and money –we are talking millions, potentially one billion dollars here — that could be used for real culturally related projects.
 
My list includes subsidizing art education in under served public schools, art student scholarships, art programs for seniors, traveling exhibits.the list goes on and on.
 
At the latest promotion last week in the safe confines of the county museum, Govan and Zumthor were the only two on stage, no one to raise embarrassing questions there, nor were any allowed from the audience.
 
The presentation focused on the tweaking of the original design, replacing the existing museum with an ugly undulating black bob of 400,000 square feet, spilling across Wilshire Boulevard.
 
I would describe effort with the raw cliché of putting a mustache on a pig.
 
The color has now changed to tan, the blob is less curvaceous, and landscaping is promoted. But still to be demolished is the fractured though functioning and familiar museum, its encyclopedic collection packed away for several years, and no special interim exhibitions for which LACMA is justly famous.
 
But the rape of the museum –and make no mistake about it, that is what this plan is – is not really about design.
 
It is about power and egos, the curse of the desire for edifice architecture and wannabe celebrity architects, and not about architecture’s noble purpose of creating spaces and places for human endeavor.
 
 
 

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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