Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Gensler (Executive Architect)
The Broad Art Foundation
Iwan Baan Elizabeth Daniels
The Broad merges a philosophical and functional response to the core missions of the Broad Art Foundation: maximum visibility of their collection and optimal accessibility to their lending repository. Dubbed “the veil and the vault,” the design presents a new, if idiosyncratic, paradigm shift in archive and exhibition design by inverting conventional notions of museum planning and programming. The two key components of the museum’s design are differentiated in form, fabrication methods, and function. On the exterior, the “veil” -- a light, airy, prefabricated cellular curtain wall façade developed through a Catia (BIM) model -- cloaks the block-long building while allowing diffused natural light into its spacious interiors. The veil’s technological perfection is interrupted only by a dimpled oculus in the main façade, which signals the location of an auditorium within. On the interior, hovering midway in the building, the compact “vault” -- a heavy, dense, sculptural mass -- houses the art repository at the center of the Broad’s lending activities. Inverting the standard model of “archiving the archive” in back-of-the-house spaces, The Broad places its art collection -- more than 2,000 works -- in the vault. An escalator tunnels the public up through its bulk, and opens onto the expansive exhibition floor bathed in the veil’s diffused light. The double-height space comprises an acre of column-free area, fully flexible enough to accommodate customized exhibition and curatorial needs. Visitors descend by way of a circuitous stair, which snakes down through the vault offering windows into the archives and lending library operations along the way.
Urbanistically, The Broad occupies a key component in the downtown revitalization plan for Los Angeles, within which Grand Avenue has emerged as a cultural district. The Broad’s form merges a dual response to its limited site and its architectural context. One of the few remaining parcels in the revitalization plan, the site is only 200 feet wide by 200 feet deep and limited to a 70 foot zoning envelope, which dictated the building’s maximum footprint, and orthogonal, rectilinear form. The museum is located within a distinctive concentration of arts institutions and iconic architecture in a three-block radius. Sited directly across from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and near Isozaki’s Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad was designed in contrast to the architectural hegemony of its context. While the Concert Hall is shiny and reflective in material and cacophonous in form, The Broad’s fabric is porous and absorptive, its form poised and calculated. Directly south of The Broad, DS+R designed a public plaza that opens up a rare parcel of green space along Grand Avenue. The landscape features a bosque of century-old olive trees, which provides an ancient counterpoint to the new building and a quiet buffer to activity on the street. The plaza’s open lawn, surrounded by tables and seating, provides a venue for the museum’s outdoor programming (films, performances, events), and encourages a mix of urbane culture, leisure, and cuisine that contributes to a renewed spirit in downtown Los Angeles.
The Broad offers an artful “round trip” from the street: visitors penetrate the floating veil, ride up through the dense vault, emerge into a seemingly boundless light-filled art gallery, and descend while privy to glimpses of the museum’s archives. The building’s urbane design maximizes its impact on its city by strategically bringing its footprint and edges out to the property lines, where the museum becomes an active participant in the street. At the north and south corners of the block-long building, the veil strategically lifts up, establishing reciprocal views between its cityscape and its interior, and effectively bringing the sidewalk into an expansive lobby activated and energized with coffee and retail shops. The Broad’s high-tech infrastructure includes advanced structural and seismic measures, as well as optimal sustainable systems that target LEED Silver certification. The substructure includes a 57’-long rocker that allows the veil to sway independently of the rest of the building during a tremor or earthquake. Solar roof monitors are designed to collect maximum northern indirect sunlight, which provides the only lighting during museum hours. Water consumption is reduced over 40 percent by sustainable systems, including rooftop drains that filter rainwater runoff down to the museum’s plaza, a rare green public space in the city. Sustainable transportation is encouraged with electric car charging stations, bike racks, and close access to public transit. Positioned with the goal of contributing to the revitalization of downtown LA, The Broad has exceeded expectations by engaging its urban context and actively welcoming the public.