When it opens in 2014, The Broad museum will join Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall on Grand Avenue, a prime corridor of increasingly vibrant downtown Los Angeles. That, says Elizabeth Diller, principal of Diller Scofidio +Renfro , the project’s architect, presented a major design challenge. “How could we sit next to Disney Hall and be a good neighbor? It was daunting.”
So the $140-million building, created to house philanthropist Eli and Edythe Broad ’s collection of more than 2,000 works of post-war contemporary art, is everything Disney Center is not. “This building is porous and brittle,” the architect continues. “It brings in light in comparison with shiny Disney Hall.”
The three-story, 120,000-square-foot structure also presents a new paradigm. In keeping with the Broad’s status as a lending institution, it has the second-floor storage archive a visible and central part of the museum-goer’s experience. Thus, DSR dubs the design’s overriding concept “the veil and the vault.”
The veil refers to the building’s construction, a honeycomb creation of fiberglass reinforced concrete panels that filter in daylight and are supported by 650 tons of steel. Inside at the lobby level, the veil sits behind the front face’s glazed wall. Overlooking Grand Avenue, the elevation comprises 37 glass panels, each 20 feet by 5 feet by 6 inches thick.
But it’s up on the third-floor gallery, the main viewing space, that the veil makes its most striking interior statement. With its integral skylight system, it hovers as the ceiling of a column-less expanse one-acre in area. Access is pretty trippy, too. Visitors are transported either by a long escalator that seemingly pierces through walls or a futuristic elevator, a glass cylinder in form.
More good news? The Broad aims for LEED silver certification. Perhaps equally good? Admission will be free.