L.A. art king Eli Broad unveiled the new designs for the Broad Art Foundation museum yesterday. We know, we know, the City of Angeles is a cultural wasteland to which New York should pay little, if any, heed. Still, the news is important for one big reason: the firm designing the museum is one of our very own, and the project pretty much solidifies it as an international powerhouse, our very own Frank Gehry, as it were. (Looks like we’re trading architects.)
Diller, Scofidio + Renfro had a real go of it last decade, starting with the renovation to Brasserie in the Seagrams Building and culminating with the now-in-its-second-phase High Line. There was a museum in Boston, and, of course, the lauded Lincoln Center transformation, one of the best projects of 2010.
The firm has now brought that latter design, or something very much like it, to the West Coast–just look at those corners! And while this may seem lazy, it’s not. Not only is this a clever architectural flourish (even if better executed against an existing building like Alice Tully Hall), the real message this transfusion sends is that New York architecture works in L.A.; it works anywhere, in fact.
And that’s exactly what’s about to happen, too. Whether or not Liz Diller likes it, she’s a starchitect now, and the work of her firm, like that of Jean Nouvel, like Christian de Portzamparc, like Frank Gehry, will now be increasingly in demand. New York hasn’t really had an international architectural success yet, not the way Britain has Foster and Rogers and Hadid, the way France has Herzog & de Mueron and Nouvel and de Portzamparc, the way Japan has SANAA and Maki.
We love Robert Stern. Steven Holl does phenomenal, ephemeral work that will probably never be appropriately appreciated. Rafael Viñoly? Cesar Pelli? They build all over the world but are also foreign-born and a touch too straightforward for real fame. Maybe Daniel Libeskind counts. But never, not until Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has New York been able to boast a firm with the kind of muscular, definitive style that, for better or worse, the design marketplace demands in order to achieve worldwide success.
What better way to arrive on that scene than by building a huge new architectural monument right next-door to Gehry’s celebrated Disney Concert Hall? The baton has been passed in American architecture.