Broad Contemporary art museum ready to open

“The Vault and the Veil,” as Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) Architects call it, unequivocally describes the ready to open, Broad Contemporary Art Museum. The very authentic concept of the building reflects in those words, relating to the two parts which come together to mass the whole construction.

Courtesy of  Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

“Contrast” is what abounds in the air, as we glimpse the Broad standing its ground amidst architectural icons like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Arts, in the Grand Avenue Arts Corridor of Downtown L.A. Admirably, it is that very quality which creates a sense of balance and harmony allotting the Broad its very own space.

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) – Photogrophy: Iwan Baan

Gehry, the brains behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall, was the initial choice for the project, but, when he declined, Eli and Edythe Broad, the philanthropists and longtime art collectors elected to host a competition. By virtue of their ingenious planning to maximize the utilization of space and creating a contrasting yet balanced structure to the hard spot that was the Walt Disney Hall, the DS+R Architects got the favour of Mr. Broad.

Courtesy of  Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)-Photography: Jeff Duran/Warren Air

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)-Photography: Jeff Duran/Warren Air

The Broad completes Eli’s vision of an iconic and cultural arts center suitable for exhibiting his own personal collection along with several others. The structure, in its very porous way seems to reciprocate his love for contemporary artwork. It answers to Gehry’s Concert Hall in an opposing sense by implementing a plain façade for a sculptural one, porous character for a reflective one, linear shape for a curvy one and a conceptual nature for an abstract one.

The ‘veil’ or the skin, comprises 2,500 rhomboidal modular panels of fiberglass reinforced concrete, which act as a unit to shield the interiors from direct sunlight. Light as such dances to the tune of the exoskeleton. The roof-line creates an illusion of sloping, a two- point perspective, adding to the character of the building.

The exhibition area spawns the first and the third floors with a central ‘vault’ being used for storage and staff offices, seemingly hovering in between.

Courtesy of  Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

As a visitor, you will enter the lobby area first, travel via a 105 foot escalator through the concrete vault to land on the third floor gallery and be surprised by the transparent grandeur of the area with a 23 foot ceiling and 318 skylights to diffuse the sun rays. To build the anticipation for future artwork to be presented, the design very ingeniously allows glimpses into the archives while descending from the third floor gallery via a central stairwell.

DS+R also worked to enhance the surrounding area, that is, from Hope Street to Grand Avenue by proposing an adjacent 24000 square foot outdoor public plaza. Principle elements include a 100 year old grove of Barouni Olive trees a huge lawn and a restaurant on the western end. Greenery not only makes the whole area environment friendly but also allows a sense of much needed peace and ease to the pedestrians.

Courtesy of  Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)

So if you are an art enthusiast, and interested in works of artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly with some of the Broad Fund’s major artwork, start biding your time, for the Museum is all set to have its grand opening on September 20, 2015. And even if you are not much into art, the building itself is worth visiting simply for its marvelous architecture.

photography by: iwan baan

By: Antara Jha

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