In downtown Los Angeles, The Broad proves that a beautifully designed smaller building can stand tall beside an architectural giant. Named for philanthropist Eli Broad, who financed the $140 million building that houses the Broad Collection, this project stands toe-to-toe with Frank Gehry’s celebrated Walt Disney Concert Hall, located directly across the street.
Occupying a mere 200-by-200-foot site with a 70-foot height limit, The Broad was designed to share its 2,000-work collection with the largest audience possible while introducing younger generations to contemporary art. To exploit the opportunities in the challenging site, the design team developed two main architectural elements: the veil and the vault.
"The dark body-like, shapely vault is a beautiful counterpoint to the bright, thick, patterned light veil." ~ Jury statement
The veil, a five-sided structure of glass fiber reinforced concrete, serves as a foil to the Disney’s exuberant forms. Where the concert hall is metallic and reflective, The Broad’s matte exterior absorbs light and directs it through honeycomb-like apertures. Beneath the veil, the vault stores the collection. But instead of being tucked into the basement or out of public view, it takes a more heroic role in the design and the opaque mass that shapes the lobby provides the ground for the galleries above.
All of the museum’s public space exist between these two main design elements, and circulation moves under, around, and through them. Visitors are welcomed at street level, where the veil is peeled back to reveal the lobby. An escalator pierces the vault and carries visitors to third-floor gallery spaces that offer nearly an acre of column-free exhibition space flooded with natural light.
Since opening in 2015, The Broad has enjoyed unprecedented diversity for an art museum, attracting a significantly younger and more ethnically diverse audience than expected. In its first year of operation, the museum welcomed nearly 825,000 visitors, with almost half returning for a second visit. As a corollary, the urban experience surrounding it has flourished. Pedestrian traffic has exploded, and food trucks and street musicians have become regular fixtures. According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, the museum has generated $8.2 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue while providing more than $54 million in economic benefit to the city.
"More than holding its own as a figure, it also engages and takes the user in." ~ Jury statement