The Broad opened Sunday for a one-day preview, using the raw Diller Scofidio + Renfro space for sound and light installations by BJ Nilsen and Yann Novak. As far as I can tell, everyone adores the interior and its lighting.
The buzz killer for some was the exterior. There have been complaints that the “veil” is less fluid, airy, and open than the early renderings. DS+R now says the veil’s openings were made smaller on the client’s request, to protect the art from direct sunlight (i.e., not because the digital design was physically impossible, or that the fabricator screwed up, or that “Unreasonable Eli” was too impatient to allow everyone to get it right).
From the inside, side views of the city are small and cropped. I’ve no problem with that. The croppings are interesting in their own right.
“Porous” is a word that describes SpongeBob SquarePants better than the Broad’s north side.
My main misgiving is with the Grand Avenue-facing “oculus.” This is a depression that supplies a window feature in a meeting room. The oculus was hard to understand in the renderings and in recent construction photos. It now appears that they are adding veil elements inside the glass, to create the illusion that the depression penetrates the glass skin. So far it looks less magical than anticipated.
OK: Not many people look as good as their Tinder photo, and not many buildings live up to the rendering. In the long run, everyone will forget the rendering. They won’t forget Disney Hall. The real question is how the Broad’s exterior relates to Gehry’s masterpiece. The Broad was pitched as a less flamboyant neighbor whose virtues are on the inside. I doubt the difference between the renderings and reality will matter much in the grand scheme of Grand Avenue.
There are many interesting details that haven’t got much attention, both inside and out. On two Grand Avenue corners the veil lifts up to create entrances. The diagonals are dramatic, and a gap between the veil and the building creates a sheltered space for expected lines of visitors. One entrance points to Disney Hall, the other to MOCA.
The entrances lead to a lobby that Christopher Hawthorne called “a strikingly unusual room, unlike any other in Los Angeles.” It’s almost a Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set, a reading that will be enhanced when the trippy escalator and staircase are open (they weren’t for the preview).
Below is the staircase as seen from the main gallery floor.
I’ve noticed that whenever an architectually ambitious building is constructed, comment boards will talk about bird poop. Example, from the L.A. Times:
“I am sure the pigeons will make good use of the many alcoves. . . . I propose a new name, the Pigeon Loft!” (lynnke)
This is evidently how some people articulate their distaste for new architecture. There were similar comments about Disney Hall. Twelve years after opening, Disney Hall gleams like it’s brand new. Seven months before opening, the Broad could use a good scrubbing. A small bird perched with ease on a slanting groove. Obviously some of the grime is due to construction. Still, all buildings get dirty, and cleaning the squeegee-proof veil can’t be a piece of cake. The next-door neighbor sets a high standard.