Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

Photography reveals LACMA demolition during coronavirus pandemic

This exclusive photography by Monica Nouwens captures the razing of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as part of controversial plans to redevelop the site with a Peter Zumthor-designed building.

LACMA's demolition continued as part of essential activities during the city's coronavirus lockdown as announced last month.

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

The photos by locally based Nouwens capture construction workers amid rubble piles, machinery and red tape. They are wearing face covers, gloves and glasses to form protective gear to help mitigate the potential spread of Covid-19 on-site.

The demolition will raze of the Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, Bing, and Hammer buildings that are described as having "significant structural problems".

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

Their removal marks the beginning of the $650-million (£523-million) project designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zumthor, which was approved by the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors one year ago.

Zumthor has faced opposition and setbacks with the project since he unveiled the scheme in 2013.

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

The Swiss architect initially proposed demolishing the 1965 building by William L Pereira and a 1980s extension by Hardy Holzmann Pfeiffer Associates, and replacing them with an undulating black form that matched the size of the current buildings

When concerns were raised that the new building would damage the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, he introduced a revised, smaller version one year later.

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

A key feature is a bridge that will extend over Wilshire Boulevard – one of LA's biggest and busiest roads. Zumthor then revised this scheme again with a new, even smaller iteration.

"LACMA has become the Incredible Shrinking Museum," said Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight. He critiqued the scheme in a piece that called for the board to not approve the environmental report.

Protestors of the design recently launched an unofficial competition called LACMA not LackMA.

It calls for an alternative proposal after finding Zumthor's "inadequate and dysfunctional".

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

Six shortlisted designs by Barkow Leibinger, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Kaya Design, Paul Murdoch Architects,  Reiser + Umemoto, and TheeAe are intended encourage the museum board and the County Board of Supervisors to review the scheme,

However, Zumthor did receive support from an unlikely source, when movie star Brad Pitt spoke up for the Swiss architect at a planning consultation. The actor described the latest design as a "mastery of light and shadow".

Photography reveals demolition of LACMA buildings during coronavirus pandemic

Zumthor, 75, has received a number of high-profile awards, including the Praemium Imperiale in 2008, the Pritzker Prize in 2009 and the RIBA Gold Medal in 2013.

He has designed numerous buildings in Europe including the Therme Vals spa in Switzerland, the Zinc Mine Museum in Norway and the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Germany. LACMA will be his first in the US.