A Museum Inspired by Oozing Oil Will Cross Over LA's Busiest Street

By Alissa Walker on at

Last month, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor revised the design for a new building on LA's Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus after scientists claimed his proposal would damage the adjacent La Brea Tar Pits. Now he's revealed the first model of the new design: an ink blot that spans Wilshire Boulevard.

It's been quite a journey for the little blob that could. Over a year ago, Zumthor presented the first round of the museum's ambitious expansion plans, which included demolishing several older buildings in favour of an amorphous black splat which seemed to be seeping directly from the oil-rich grounds below. (That shimmering pool in the foreground of the model is a lake of liquid asphalt.)

A Museum Inspired By Oozing Oil Will Cross Over L.A.'s Busiest Street

Zumthor's original blob from 2013

But after outcry from scientists at the nearby Page Museum, Zumthor was sent back to the drawing board to reconfigure the building so as not to disturb some of the world's richest paleontological sites. It seems as if the undefined shape seems to have worked to Zumthor's advantage. The splat has simply shifted south, and instead of undulating towards the tar pits themselves, the building now bubbles over Wilshire Boulevard, creating a pedestrian bridge over the busy city street.

A Museum Inspired By Oozing Oil Will Cross Over L.A.'s Busiest Street

Revised blob reaching over Wilshire Boulevard

While this might solve the issue of avoiding critical woolly mammoth excavation territory, it creates a new problem: when's the last time you had a good urban experience under a skybridge? In these nighttime renderings you see glowing pylons that seem to be lit with an inner phosphorescence. But during the day, it will likely feel as if you're walking beneath a motorway underpass. Maybe that's Zumthor's nodding homage to LA. [Los Angeles Times]