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Best Projects, Cultural/Worship: Careful Coordination On Display at Museum Project

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In 2004, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the western U.S., began a $71.65-million, three-phase project to expand, upgrade and unify its 25-acre campus. It includes new buildings, reinstalled permanent-collection galleries and monumental artworks.

Photo by Alexander Vertikoff
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The Building Workshop of Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano, Paris, developed the master plan, stylistically linking new structures with those in the existing campus at Hancock Park. Recurring exterior elements include glass walls, solid travertine-clad walls and exposed steel beams and other accents in Renzo's signature red color.

The earlier Transformation Phase I included a subterranean garage, on which the North and South Plazas and the east-west Kendall Concourse established the central axes, and the beginning of Robert Irwin's Palm Garden.

The general contractor, MATT Construction Corp., Santa Fe Springs, broke ground on Phase II in July 2008 and completed it in June 2012. The project included the Resnick Pavilion; Ray's Restaurant and Stark Bar; a ticket booth; the completed Palm Garden; and the installation of Michael Heizer's sculpture "Levitated Mass."

MATT says the one-story, 45,000-sq-ft Resnick Exhibition Pavilion is the largest purpose-built, open-plan museum space in the world. Its distinctive sawtooth roof matches the travertine marble on the neighboring Broad Contemporary Art Museum. It features red-colored casings for its external mechanical systems and technical rooms, which were moved outside for additional gallery space.

With various projects continuing simultaneously on an operational campus, the MATT team had to coordinate and sequence carefully with museum operations. Despite these challenges, the project finished on time, within budget and with no lost-time accidents.

Heizer's sculpture is a 340-ton boulder that is rod-anchored atop reinforced concrete walls to create a sense of levitation for guests who walk beneath it along a partly subterranean 456-ft-long, 15-ft-deep trench. MATT built a slot for the boulder without using concrete form ties and with minimal construction joints to intensify the artwork's monolithic appearance.

The irregularly shaped stone had to be moved 105 miles along roads without low overpasses, a task Emmert International completed with a 200-ft-long transport vehicle. The megahaul took 11 nights of moving at 3 to 5 mph through 22 cities. Getting permits from cities and other agencies on the route required more than six months of negotiations.

Mike Fedorchek, MATT Construction vice president, says: "There is art in every aspect of the architecture, from the buildings to the landscaping, even the 'Levitated Mass' sculpture."

He adds that for the team, which included executive architect Gensler and the owner, Aurora Development, "subtle understandings of the designers' objectives helped to realize their vision."

LACMA Transformation Phase II

Los Angeles

Key Players

Owner: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Contractor: MATT Construction, Santa Fe Springs

Lead Design: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Paris

Structural Engineer: Arup, Los Angeles

Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Los Angeles

MEP Engineer: Arup, Los Angeles

Executive Architect: Gensler, Los Angeles

Landscape Architect: LRM Landscape Architecture, Culver City

Acoustics, AV, ITC, Security and Lighting Design: Arup, Los Angeles

Code Consultant: Arup, Los Angeles

Plumbing: Pan-Pacific Plumbing, Irvine

Concrete: Frank P. Petrilli & Son, Chatsworth; C MATT Corp., Santa Fe Springs

Levitated Mass Structural Engineer: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, Culver City

Submitted by MATT Construction

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