The Broad Museum - Los Angeles

You may recognize it for the famous works it houses from artists like Koons and Warhol, or from the countless posts of praise circulating throughout social media platforms and various publications. What draws the eyes of many however, is its interesting architecture. Since its establishment in September of 2015, The Broad has received hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, raking in about 180,000 visitors in the first two months. Eli Broad, the builder of KB Home and SunAmerica, both Fortune 500 companies, planned the museum’s creation in 2008. Having been an influential figure in the art world from 1973, particularly in Los Angeles, the museum’s emergence was greatly anticipated, especially its appearance. 

Six architects from across the globe competed to design the museum including Rem Koolhaasand (Netherlands), Herzog and de Meuron (Switzerland), Christian de Portzamparc (Paris), Ryeu Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima (Japan), and New York’s Diller Scofidio and Renfro who prevailed in becoming the final designers of the museum. Located by the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, the museum’s design was intended to be in contrast with the hall’s bright metallic exterior. The “honeycomblike” design given to the broad is based on the concept of “the veil and vault,” a concept combining public exhibition space with collection storage.

The veil, the honeycomb exterior, is made of nearly 3,000 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels that are supported by a 650 ton steel substructure. It wraps around the whole building and filters daylight into the indoor space. The vault is the core of the entire building, a concrete body dedicated to the storage of artworks, laboratories, as well as curating spaces and offices. It has viewing windows that provide visitors a view of portions of exhibitions that are on loan or not yet on display. This veil and vault was much easier to describe than to build. Being very tricky to fabricate, it lead to delays in the construction schedule, leading to lawsuits and disputes toward German fabricator Seele for failing to deliver the components of the “veil” façade on schedule.

The museum features 50,000 square feet of exhibition space on two upper floors, 35,000 square feet of gallery space on the third, 318 skylight monitors that allow for diffused sunlight (as well as natural lighting for half of each year), and a desk-less lobby with visitor associates greeting guests. Along with the museum, a public plaza was designed by the same architects as well as landscape architect Walter Hood. The plaza, covered in 100 year-old Barouni olive trees, covers 24,000 square feet beside the museum. The plaza features the free-standing restaurant, Otium, developed by Eli Broad and Bill Chait, with the renown Timothy Hollingsworth as executive chef. The final building cost for this 120,000 square foot museum was an estimated $140 million dollars, comparable to the costs of the 2,000 contemporary artworks residing within it.

In spite of the awe caused by the museum’s exterior, critics had mixed view of its interior, the artwork displayed. Washington Post calls it “high end trash,” and the Los Angeles times claims “Unfortunately the show doesn’t gel,” going on to describe some of the most acclaimed pieces. The Broad is after all a museum for contemporary art, so those searching for classic, traditional pieces, may not be fans of the collection. Although few criticize the museum’s collection, chosen and curated by art historian Joanne Heyler, many visitors have done nothing but praise the variety of works from around the world. Huge attractions, in popularity as well as size, include Takashi Murakami’s 82-foot long mural, “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” and Jeff Koons’ 10 foot high reflective sculptures of balloon dogs.