LACMA redesign avoids tar pits, creates challenges

LACMA redesign avoids tar pits, creates challenges

Peter Zumthor’s updated design of the LACMA expansion, shown in an artist’s rendering with the view facing west on Wilshire Boulevard, features a new wing extending across the roadway. // LACMA

Architect Peter Zumthor has dramatically revised his design for a new Los Angeles County Museum of Art, creating a new bridge-like section of the building that would span Wilshire Boulevard.

The new design is meant to address concerns that the original plan would encroach on, and potentially damage, the La Brea Tar Pits at the neighboring Page Museum, casting a shadow over the largest pit.

Zumthor has said that the early models were always subject to revision. In any case, his updated design for the $650-million project, images of which LACMA released on Tuesday, makes clear that he took the criticism seriously.

He has significantly shrunk the footprint of the museum on the north side of Wilshire, leaving plenty of breathing room around the tar pits.

To make up for that lost space, the museum is now proposing to extend the new wing across the boulevard, where it will touch down on property owned by the museum at the southeast corner of Wilshire and Spaulding Avenue, which is now used as a parking lot.