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    Towards an Art Theme Park

    Orhan Ayyüce
    Apr 9, '20 12:33 PM EST

    Photo, Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

    I have been maintaining the idea that the architect Peter Zumthor's LA County Museum’s design will have the whole park it sits on breathe better. This, now well known photograph from LA Times capturing the demolition of LACMA, revealing the unearthing of Bruce Goff's Japanese art pavilion in the background, showing the changes I am talking about. The new curved museum will make all the buildings a medium-degree more important, if not bringing out their intended beauty.
    Dotted by archaeological digs of pre historic life, and, kind of out there sliced by Michael Heizer’s levitating and spectacular chunk of sharp-ish rock, if one starts to walk from the tarpits museum to Japanese art pavilion, in between, new outdoor space remodel competition winner, and, "the new love it or hate it - I am doing it anyway County Museum," hovering before the Renzo Piano land, and, Chris Burden’s sensationally sited urban light poles, further, behind the old art-deco May Co., the Sphere of almost complete longest museum name 'Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' facing the northern hills of Hollywood mainland, and the walker is arriving at the much un/popular, landmark-grade Peterson car museum across the street. All the while the buildings having some green spaces and the architecture of the landscape is very important here. The air between them, sort of architectural social distance at work.

    Let me put in a plain language. These are ticket charging, culture producing and mass educating institutions with excellent gift shops, dining selections, cafes, selfie-worthy components and blockbuster events, not to leave out the whole family fun and field trips. A true "I built it and they came" kind of a success story chasing a high-end mission possible.

    The deed is done people, they figured out how to hang a painting on concrete walls!
    Wrecking bulldozers are in, when the public is least resistant and currently have pandemic killer to fight. Given the situation with finances in the middle of Covid 19, L.A. will look at the construction fence around the big portion of La Brea Tarpits Park and say what the fuck? 


    • monosierra

      Such a divisive project. I wonder, with SOM as the local architects of record, if Zumthor's lack of experience both in the US and at such a large scale would lead him being sidelined. But the project has been in development for a good six years at least with strangely little to show to the public. The lowest point was probably the inexplicably amateurish renderings that were quickly scuppled in favor of those done by the Boundary. Architcture aside, the museum will live and die by Govan's vision of a museum without departments. In an age when museums compete with other entertainment for attendance - and the word 'museum' has been appropriated by Instagram venues - perhaps this might point the way to more populist fare. As an 'icon' though, the flat LACMA might be content to act as a neutral backdrop to crowd-pleasing installations below its single floor.

      Los Angeles seems likes a tough place to build for outsiders. Coop Himmelbalu's campus overlooks the highway from its alien perch - quite successfully - but Moneo's cathedral and Piano's fussy boxes and bulbs seem to avoid their urban environment. 

      Apr 14, 20 2:25 pm  · 
      1  · 

      monosierra, well said. 
      I like Moneo's cathedral as a building once you enter under the bells. But it's public opening could be better on Grand requiring a completely different site plan. Also there's the wall of a county building cutting off to join the relatively new Grand Park.

      Apr 15, 20 9:08 pm  · 

      Thanks Orhan. Come to think of it - boulevards and beaches aside, what are some of the great public spaces of Los Angeles? I've only been there a couple of times and the city is car-centric to the core. The Getty Center seemed like a great public space - free to access, spectacular views, a wide variety of spaces. But it is a museum after all and it takes quite a hike to get up there.

      Apr 17, 20 9:07 am  · 
      1  · 

      v v v

      Apr 21, 20 4:44 pm  · 

      monosierra, you are to the point. As an Angelino for many decades, I will try elaborate and answer your question. 

      The scale of waterfront, boulevards are enormous. Most of its oceanfront with public beaches and nature reserve areas are habitable. Because of the friendly climate they are used all year around. Long boulevards enter and exit different demographics and cityscapes. Don’t be fooled by LA’s suburban costume, it’s one of the densest cities in America with deep social, cultural and political histories. The freeways with cars are still the most effective transport and there’s a good amount of human exchange happens in traffic. Add to that, the digital communications what changed the nature, definition, physicality of public space. We are living in an endless transition times not exactly knowing what the built environments will look like in the future and what the buildings created by the recent architectures will be morphed into? 

      Then, some great depending on the consumer, there are malls, events, theme parks, and other pay per view places Charles Moore described in “You Have to Pay for the Public Life” in 1965. There are many hybrid places that might be free to enter but also highly controlled and, not so subliminally, encouraging the visitors to buy things. I like best are impromptu public gatherings around midnight food courts with international sidewalk vendors in mini mall parking lots, swap meets, gatherings of ethnic cultures, music based public gatherings, continuous celebrations of many cultures converging in this immigrant city of Los Angeles. Many things happen on LA’s vast and long streets. They crisscross the city. For LA Forum’s Summer 2016 newsletter geographer Rob Sullivan followed Crenshaw Blvd. from its start on Wilshire Blvd. in midtown and after 24 miles ending up as a nature trail in Palos Verdes and called the boulevard the Spinal Column of Black Los Angeles as it runs through the historically important African American neighborhoods.  LA is an original spread and quintessential capitalist city.  

      Sounds contradictory but the best public spaces are people’s private backyards when half of the land covered by your own piece of single story residential plot with an outdoor space where many gatherings take place.
      The make of the city pretty much dictated by its residential tracks and how they are connected or separated by the large boulevards and the freeways serving them. All the economic discrepancies, political and social divides exist in those separated territories connected by cars. Like many spread based American cities but mega-sized. And, more complex than any other city I’ve known and a very worthy city to observe.

      Apr 21, 20 4:40 pm  · 
      1  · 

      Love the reply! The idea of a backyard-filled city connected by massive roads is so different from what the East Coast megapolis offers - it almost reminds me of other countries in Asia or Latin America. I recall Chicago having a fair number of such domestic cityscapes outside the high-rise core but Manhattan is just towers upon towers. The Texan cities have a relatively small core and suburbia that is so spread out they are barely part of the city proper. I guess LA manages to sprawl and contain these residential tracts within a certain degree of urban density comparable with the downtown core, thanks to its geography within the basin.

      Apr 22, 20 8:50 am  · 

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