Ever since their 2002 Blur Building, a cloud suspended over Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, the career of the partnership of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio (joined by Charles Renfro in 2004) has been dotted with projects which are always surprising and sometimes necessary, such as the recent reconversion of New York’s High Line. A new milestone in this series is also one of the most important: the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles, which officially opened last 20 September.
Intended to house one of the largest existing private collections of contemporary art in the world, owned by the American entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, the building – dubbed ´the veil and the vault’ – stands very close to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the LA Philharmonic. The proximity of the WDCH building determines the Broad project in that without denying itself an iconic stature, it takes on the image of an abstract skin of rigorous geometry and organic lines. So the new museum’s total of 11,000 square meters distributed in three floor levels are given an enclosure that functions as loadbearing structure and as ornament at the same time. The structural lattice frees up the ground level and makes it possible for its contact with the ground to be an event in itself, welcoming the visitor into the foyer. As for ornament, the 2,500 rhomboidal pieces of fiberglass-reinforced concrete filter daylight coming in from the street, while shielding the gems contained within this faceted white jewel case hidden from the gaze of outsiders.