Welcome A-Broad

Downtown Los Angeles' explosive growth has another feather in its cap with the opening, this past Sunday, of The Broad Museum, which spotlights the role architecture plays in showcasing great art. The 120,000 square foot building, designed by architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler to house Eli and Edythe Broad’s expanding collection—2,000 pieces and growing—is as much of a draw as its contents. Quietly holding its own against its shiny, curvaceous neighbor, the Frank-Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, it seamlessly integrates storage (the “vault”) within a honeycombed exterior shell (the “veil”) that shields the art from direct sunlight. “We turned what was the negative into an asset,” says Diller of the museum's design challenges.   

Unlike the old model museum, which holds the public at arm's length, this one, which has free admission, pivots on its accessibility. Outside, a widened sidewalk, a cluster of olive trees and a slender covered pathway between the two entrances were all designed to encourage the building’s interaction with visitors. Once inside, the space itself acts as the museum’s guide, hurtling visitors upstairs via a long, narrow escalator or a space capsule-like elevator where they alight, aliens on a new planet, on the museum’s vast third floor gallery lit by filtered natural light. Flattering art and patron alike, this is a space ideal for the age of Instagram and the opening show, curated by Joanne Heyler, The Broad’s founding director and the director and chief curator of The Broad Art Foundation, fittingly offers a wide swath of the marquee names—Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman and Kara Walker, to name a few—represented in the collection. A staircase, which runs through the center of the building, spirals down, offering glimpses into the vault before gently depositing museum goers back onto the first floor. “It's not forbidding, it's very accessible,” says Diller.    

The east coast-based Diller is certainly having a west coast moment. Two more Diller-designed buildings will open within the year. The McMurtry Building at Stanford University, which will be a new home for the Department of Art and Art History, opens this fall and, in January, she’ll unveil the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) building, which will open to the public in 2016.

  

 Photos 1, 2, 3 by Iwan Baan; Photo 4 by Bruce Damonte

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