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An Up-Close Look At What The New LACMA Redesign Will Look Like

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It has been over two years since LACMA and architect Peter Zumthor revealed the $600+ million makeover of the museum that would span across Wilshire Boulevard. Now, the museum has released new images that give us a preview of what the forthcoming building will look like from the visitor's perspective.

On Thursday, LACMA launched BuildingLACMA.org, a website offering more details about the project, set to be completed in 2023—the same year the Purple Line station at Wilshire/Fairfax is set to open.

The new renderings show wide hallways where the art will be on display, with plenty of natural light provided by high windows that line the side of the structure. Despite the openness of the new layout, the singular structure will actually hold less space than the four buildings it's replacing, going from 393,000 square feet down to 368,000 square feet—a loss of 25,000 square feet.

In a column for the L.A. Times, architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne seems mixed on the renderings, writing:

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Generally speaking, the design has been trending in the wrong direction since the museum decided, after shrinking back from the La Brea Tar Pits to avoid damaging them during construction, to extend the wing south across Wilshire. It has lost some of the concentrated power it possessed as a bold, self-contained and biomorphic form rising entirely north of the boulevard.

If you remember, the original design for the LACMA remodel would have the museum literally hanging over the neighboring tar pits, which the Page Museum balked at.

However, Hawthorne thinks there's plenty of room for improvement:

But the images can also be read in purely architectural terms. What they suggest is that the great gray mass of the building could still succeed as a bracingly alien presence on the Miracle Mile — but only if its imposing forms and severe palette are tempered with blasts of color, inventive landscape design and appealing, richly detailed public space at ground level.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, though. Construction is set to start in 2018 (the same year the neighboring Academy Museum will open), with the demolition of the Ahmanson Building, Art of the Americas Buiding, the Hammer buildings and the Leo S. Bing Center.

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The launch of BuildingLACMA.org coincides with the preparation of an environmental impact report and the distribution of an information brochure to residents in the Miracle Mile. There will be a public meeting at LACMA scheduled for Wednesday, August 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. for the public to raise their concerns about the new project.