The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Wahington D.C., designed by SOM in 1974, is undeniably striking in its design—the distinctively cylinder shaped structure is unlike anything else in the city. In 2009 Richard Koshalek, director of the modern and contemporary art museum, in a bold effort to place the museum at the forefront of our nation’s cultural institutions, came up with a radical new plan that would make the building stand out even more among the countries’ leading museums and significantly augment the city’s arts culture. Koshalek proposed his new vision for a 15-story inflatable balloon, designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, that would bubble out of the donut-shaped museum’s central courtyard twice a year. The project, dubbed the “Seasonal Inflatable Structure,” would serve as a unique space for installations and performances.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and LEGO have unveiled plans for the LEGO House, an experience and education museum to be built in Billund, Denmark, LEGO’s birthplace. Visitors will enter a building resembling giant LEGO stacked blocks. The LEGO-block building concept embodies the tenants of LEGO play: stimulated learning and interactive thinking. Visitors can interact with the museum by walking around, under, and over, just as they would if they were playing with the bricks. Construction is projected to begin next year.
The Art Newspaper is out with its latest listing of top exhibitions and museum attendance for 2012 and in the category “Architecture and Design” there are some surprises. MoMA, the first museum in the world to have an architecture department, has led this category for many years and in 2011 as usual had the top three architecture and design exhibitions in the survey. But for 2012 St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum’s first show dedicated to a living architect, Santiago Calatrava: The Quest For Movement, broke MoMA’s monopoly of the category and became the most popular exhibit in the world.
Now we’re really confused. Amidst reports that LA’s MOCA might be taken over by LACMA or USC, now we hear via the New York Times that the struggling institution might now join forces with the National Gallery in Washington D.C. According to John Wilmerding, the chairman of the Gallery’s board of trustees, MOCA is “close to working out a five-year agreement…to collaborate on programming, research and exhibitions.” The deal wouldn’t include fundraising assistance, but would obviously bolster MOCA’s ability to raise money with the National Gallery’s high profile assistance on programming, exhibitions, research, curation, and staffing. Oh, and guess who approached the National Gallery, according to the story: MOCA board chair Eli Broad, who has made it clear he doesn’t want to be swallowed by LACMA. Stay tuned as this saga plays out.
The Grand, the multi-million-dollar, mixed use project on top of LA’s Bunker Hill, is finally… slowly… moving forward with an Arquitectonica-designed residential tower, which just broke ground. But it appears that Frank Gehry’s days on the project may be numbered. After a recent call with Related, we got no assurances that the starchitect was still part of the project. A report in the Downtown News got similarly uncommitted answers.
Just across the street from the Grand we hear that The Broad (what’s with all the THEs?)—Eli Broad’s multi-million-dollar art museum—is getting ready to add an upscale market to its rear, just above the parking lot. If it’s even close to as successful as Chelsea Market in New York, Downtown LA could have yet another hit on its hands. Meanwhile, decking is being laid for a new park to The Broad’s south, but still no renderings of the park have been unveiled. Let’s make this public, Mr. Broad. We can’t wait to see your plans, which could single-handedly make or break Grand Avenue.
[Editor's Note: Following the publishing of this story, the Speed Art Museum and tree researchers studied the tree, determining that it was, in fact, not three centuries old, nor a Valley Oak. The tree in question is now believed to be a 60-year-old English Oak. Read the update here.]
The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is currently closed to visitors until 2015 while a dramatic stacked-box addition is built to the north of the institution’s original 1927 neo-Classical building on the University of Louisville’s Olmsted-designed Belknap Campus. The $50 million expansion, designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, who were later dropped from the project, will triple the museum’s gallery space and add to the already robust arts scene in Louisville.
This week, one alert writer at the student newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal, noticed something missing at the construction site: the University’s oldest tree. The approximately 309-year-old Valley Oak had been cut down when the site was cleared late last year. Only a stump now remains behind the construction fence. The author, Wesley Kerrick, noted the tree pre-dates not just the University, but the city, state, and country in which it resides, as it sprouted sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. Kerrick expressed frustration over the fact that the tree couldn’t have been saved.
An artistic selection committee Thursday selected three semi-finalists for the Ohio Statehouse Holocaust Memorial in Columbus. Jaume Plensa of Chicago, Columbus’ Ann Hamilton, and Daniel Libeskind will visit the site, meet with the committee and then have six weeks to submit a proposal for review. The committee will pick the final project artist in May.
Libeskind designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, one of the most prominent memorials of its kind. Ann Hamilton has home-turf advantage, so to speak, and is coming off a spectacularly reviewed show at the Armory, The Event of a Thread. Spanish-born Jaume Plensa’s evocative sculptures are pensive and humanistic, often involving glowing lights, and seem well suited to such a project.
Next Tuesday, January 8, The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles (not that Broad Museum), Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum with an arresting net-like “veil” facade by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will top out at the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street. The project is set to open next year and will contain 120,000-square-feet over three-levels, including 50,000 square feet of gallery space on two floors, a lecture hall for up to 200 people, a public lobby with display space and a museum shop.