Second on our stop on my list for downtown Los Angeles, after the Bradbury Building, was The Broad. I definitely put The Broad building into my bucket of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I had seen pictures of the Bradbury, so I had some concept of its experience, but I had not for the Broad and was very, very surprised.
In hindsight, these 2 buildings are excellent companions to see one after the other. Both excel at providing a rich texture through materials and both are a bit underwhelming from the exterior. Both treat the ceiling with great care.
Starting with the latter, the “skin” of the building seems like its slapped onto a big box. Positioned right next door to Gehry’s Disney concert hall, it felt like one superficial monstrosity next to another. Once we approached the entrance though, I was caught off guard by sculptural interior of the lobby and even more so by the top level gallery which was extremely bright and open. The exterior of the building feels quite heavy and enclosed, but from the interior it provides just the right amount of light. Many museum interiors with windows often have to provide additional shade, but the “skin” let in just enough. This was especially effective of its application on the ceiling- I appreciated the consistency of the concept of the glass box protected by this “skin” on all exposed surfaces.
The thoroughways of the building were in contract to the large open spaces and provided tunnel like (dark, enclosed) to connect the different sections.
Overall, I thought the Broad gave great height to the exhibition spaces, which I think is necessary considering some of the scale of the work it shows.
Above all else, its free. I commend Los Angeles for its commitment to architecture and art- its rare that a city goes to such lengths to promote the freedom of expression.
Website: The Broad