Image: Atelier Peter Zumthor, via the LA Times

At a lecture on Wednesday night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Swiss architect Peter Zumthor unveiled new images of his evolving design for LACMA's new $600-million building that would span across Wilshire Boulevard.

As critic Christopher Hawthorne describes it in his recap of the presentation, "What began as an organic black form spreading across the landscape ... has become a less fluid, harder-edged and more muscular form in sand-colored concrete." Zumthor hinted at the revisions during a conversation with Paul Goldberger in February, though without any visuals it was hard to determine the extent of the differences. Changes to the plan since it's latest iteration in 2015 (comparison below) are slight, but those to the design's color and finishes are dramatic – and at first glance a step in the right direction.

Evolution of LACMA's plan. Top left: 2013 in dashed lines, 2014 in solid; top right: 2015; bottom: 2017

All solid surfaces will be tan-colored concrete (Image: Atelier Zumthor, via the LA Times)

The last time we presented Zumthor's LACMA design was in August 2016, when renderings were released before a "Public Scope Meeting." Those images failed to impress, but the new images – a combintation of model photos/montages and professional renderings – convey how the building is trying to root itself in Los Angeles's natural and urban context.

Hawthorne describes evident parallels with Frank Lloyd Wright's textile-block houses, though Zumthor went back in time even further: "If I’m lucky the building will be like some kind of an Inca temple that’s always been in the sand and now they’ve excavated it — a really old piece that’s always been there."

Zumthor is working with artist Robert Irwin and landscape Laurie Olin on the plaza level. (Image: Atelier Zumthor/The Boundary, via the LA Times)

The dramatic overhang of the roof is a welcome revision that makes sense in Southern California. (Image: Atelier Zumthor/The Boundary, via the LA Times)


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