Zumthor goes organic


The Swiss architect experiments organic shapes in a museum for the city that fluctuates over the landscape

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, re-energised over the past seven years by its director, Michael Govan, has unveiled an audacious scheme to replace its decrepit and dysfunctional core. An exhibition of models and drawings, The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA, is on display to 15 September. Taking his cues from the horizontality of LA and the tar pits that adjoin the expansive site, the Swiss architect sketched a biomorphic form comprising a single floor of galleries, wrapped in glass and supported on transparent plinths. The building would hover over landscaped open space like a great black flower, reaching out to Renzo Piano’s axial additions and Bruce Goff’s quirky Japanese Pavilion, as well as to the reticent George Page Museum, which exhibits mastodon bones retrieved from the tar. It’s a design that evolved organically from six years of informal discussions, and it responds to the multi-cultural metropolis, the challenge of the site and the opportunity to present an encyclopaedic collection in an entirely new way.

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