The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust | Belzberg Architects

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is located within the Pan Pacific Park, adjacent to the Los Angeles Holocaust Memorial. In such a context, the project had to balance spatial requirements with the introduction of a significant new structure into the existing landscape an urban public park.

To integrate the building into the open context, the structure was submerged. This strategy allowed the park’s landscape to continue over the museum’s roof, with existing pathways morphing to connect park users and museum visitors.

The building is the container for a non-linear story. The rooms are undivided, exhibit walls end before reaching the ceiling. The formed concrete roof is exposed inside the building, folding and compressing the space in response to the graphic intensity of the displays. The absolute-black smooth finish framing the displays creates a sharp contrast against the rough, exposed-concrete walls and ceiling. As visitors reach the end of the exhibits, which are organized chronologically, the space opens up again, letting daylight in and conveying a sense of relief. The concept behind this spatial dynamic is to reinforce the idea that the distance between normalcy and atrocity is indeed small.

In addition to exhibit galleries, the program includes a survivor presentation room, a children’s memorial, a library, and administrative and storage space. More than 75 percent of the museums’ interior spaces are illuminated by natural daylight and feature views to the outdoor. Native plants and textured concrete were utilized as primary exterior materials. The simplicity of this approach created a distinctive presence for the museum while preserving the continuity of the existing topography and landscape.

Additional Credits

  • Electrical Consultant: A&F Consulting Engineers
  • Engineer – Envinronmental: Enviropro, Inc.
  • Engineer – Methane: Carlin Environmental
  • Engineer – Soils: Irvine Geotechnical
  • Mechanical Consultant: John Dorius & Associates
  • Plumbing Consultant: Tom Nasrollahi & Associates
  • Structural Consultant: William Koh & Associates

Photo Credit

    © Iwan Baan; Benny Chan

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

  • Architect: Belzberg Architects
  • Owner: Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
  • Location: Los Angeles

Jury Comments

Descending into the museum is extremely important based on the physical, mental, and emotional transition one must go through in order to be prepared for the content.

The building is a very fitting, powerful, and understated vessel for the information and exhibits; it’s calm and appropriate.

The concrete work is beautiful. Although the project is curvilinear in form, the more basic structure is a very rigid grid. Given the nature of this museum's mission, the experience of it should be unusual, and this design makes it so: the amorphous geometry reinforces the unsettling journey through the museum.

2014 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture Jury

  • Scott Wolf, FAIA (Chair)
  • The Miller Hull Partnership LLP
  • Seattle
  • Natalye Appel, FAIA
  • Natalye Appel + Associates Architects
  • Houston
  • Mary Brush, AIA
  • Brush Architects, LLC
  • Chicago
  • Joy Coleman, AIA
  • Treanor Architects
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Robert M. Hon
  • AIAS Student Representative
  • Savannah
  • Brenda A. Levin, FAIA
  • Levin & Associates Architects
  • Los Angeles
  • Michael J. Mills, FAIA
  • Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC
  • Princeton, New Jersey
  • G. Martin Moeller, Assoc. AIA
  • National Building Museum
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Ed Soltero, AIA
  • Office of the University Architect - Arizona State University
  • Tempe, Arizona

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