The Broad, the $140 million contemporary art museum that is due to open next year in downtown Los Angeles, has unveiled designs for a new outdoor plaza that museum officials said will contribute to a pedestrian renaissance in the center of America’s second-largest city.
The plaza is being designed by Hood Design and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the New York firm also responsible for the honeycomb-like concrete-and-steel facade that is the defining feature of the museum itself. The opening of the museum, which is being built to house Eli and Edythe Broad’s expansive art collection, recently was pushed back from late 2014 to an unspecified date in 2015.
The idea behind the plaza is to capitalize on the opening of Grand Park in 2012 and other developments that are making this section of downtown Los Angeles—home to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles—more welcoming to pedestrians, Eli Broad said in a statement. "Grand Avenue’s incomparable architecture and cultural institutions need increased walkable outdoor green space to enhance the area and create a vibrant urban core," Broad said. "Edye and I want our museum patrons—from across Los Angeles and around the world—to experience a creative outdoor environment and great food when they visit the Broad, MOCA, and all of the great performing arts venues along Southern California’s most significant cultural corridor."
The plaza, which is being planned for a 24,000-square-foot expanse immediately south of the museum site, between Grand Avenue and Hope Street. A new mid-block traffic signal and crosswalk will connect the Broad and the plaza on the west side of Grand Avenue with MOCA, the Colburn School, and other commercial and cultural attractions. The plaza itself will feature Barouni olive trees that were originally seeded in the early 20th century in the Shasta Cascade region of Northern California. A lawn will serve as a counterpoint to the trees and as a venue for the Broad’s outdoor programming, including films and performances. Tree-stump tables and seating fashioned from olive trees will provide an inviting setting for pedestrians to linger. A restaurant, which the museum is developing in partnership with the dining entrepreneur Bill Chait, will occupy a freestanding structure at one end of the plaza.
"Our design for the plaza taps into the new spirit of downtown L.A., mixing culture, recreation, and food," said Elizabeth Diller, a founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "The grove of 100-year-old olive trees is a counterpoint to the newness of the surrounding buildings and the artifice of the bridge over General Thaddeus Kosciusko Way that supports this landscape."
Will Lamb is a writer and editor based in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served as a senior editor at Dwell from 2013 to 2015.