A calamity perhaps is the word to describe the design process our Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been suffering for the last half dozen years, and let me stress that is “our” taxpayer supported museum.
A catastrophe certainly will be the word to describe the museum if the $600 million plus design becomes as feared the nightmare construct and a failed Southern California conceit, orchestrated by a self aggrandizing art crowd.
Putting on my battered hat as the former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, and several other professional publications, I join the chorus of critics and tax payers to urge the County Board of Supervisors to stop feeding funds to what will be by the time it is built a one billion dollar mistake. That total includes the private donations by art patrons that could have gone elsewhere.
The Board including that usual clear headed Sheila Kuehl who represents my Malibu is poised to release $117.5 million for the calamity, having to date been wined and dined, and their egos massaged, by wily museum director Michael Govan. Talk about an edifice complex of a star struck arts administrator, and of what is ostensibly a public institution.
Meanwhile, the clearly over-whelmed Govan and over-his-head architect, Switzerland-based Peter Zumthor, have been putzing around with the design for what seems like dog years, the latest study inexplicably reducing the proposed gallery space, when obviously needed is more to house the collection. Less in this case is less.
It appears the design process has been a cozy, closed closet exercise, involving numerous commutes between Zurich and Los Angeles. Not bad when you are punching the clock at a non profit sinecure, but sad when considering those funds could be used for arts education in our culturally starved public schools.
And talk about being environmentally insensitive, it is hard to rationalize the demolition of the nearly half a million square feet of the existing landmark museum, and the chaos of the years of construction
As for the proposed design, it is no longer colored black as the muck in the adjacent tar pits, but it is still a biomorphic blob sprawling across Wilshire Boulevard. The galleries might be one floor, as Govan wanted, but the structure is ugly and awkward.
Time for the County Supervisors to bring this farce of a design process to a screeching halt.