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LACMA’s Monumental Transformation

The Board of Supervisors approved a new permanent collection building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or LACMA. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, the building will be the final component of a decade-long transformation and expansion of the campus.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with LACMA CEO Michael Govan after the Board voted to approve LACMA’s new building. Photo by Diandra Jay.

LACMA has already raised 85 percent of the $650 million price tag for the building, primarily from private donors, including philanthropist and entertainment executive David Geffen. The County’s contribution is $125 million.

“We are tremendously grateful to the County for its consistent support of our project, as well as to the generous leaders of the campaign, who have made significant pledges to make this building a reality,” said LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan. “And thanks to the thoughtful comments by members of the community, the design of the building has become simpler, more beautiful, more transparent, with enhanced access to the park.”

“LACMA is a cornerstone of the arts and culture in Los Angeles, and the County is proud to be part of the effort to ensure its vitality as an important civic institution for many more decades,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes a portion of LACMA’s sprawling campus on Wilshire Boulevard.

Actors Diane Keaton and Bratt Pitt testify before the Board of Supervisors in support of the LACMA’s new building. Photo by Diandra Jay.

The Supervisor added, “The new building is a true embodiment of public-private partnership, made possible through both the County’s commitment and the profound generosity of our community,” the Supervisor added.

LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of nearly 140,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Construction of the new building is scheduled to begin in early 2020 and conclude in late 2023. By the time it opens, LACMA will have grownits indoor exhibition space from 130,000 to 220,000 square feet – a 70 percent increase over 15 years – and added 3.5 acres of park and open outdoor space to offer visitors new and innovative ways to experience LACMA’s vast encyclopedic collection.

The new building, to be called the David Geffen Galleries, will replace four aging structures, namely the Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, Hammer and Bing. It will cover the footprint of the demolished buildings, and then span across Wilshire Boulevard to the Spaulding parking lot. It will be composed of seven semi-transparent pavilions that support a single elevated exhibition level with a floor-to-ceiling glass perimeter.

The horizontal design will place art from all areas of LACMA’s encyclopedic collection on the same level, with no obvious facade or front or back, offering a non-hierarchical display of art.

“The County museum hosts over a million visitors each year, and this design — transparent, open, and unilevel — will enhance their enjoyment and experience of our culturally diverse art and create a welcoming space for all ages and backgrounds,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “The design and ambitions reflect the L.A. County of today and L.A. County’s cultural leadership in the 21st century.”

The single-level gallery floor will be more intuitive to navigate and easier to access, especially for wheelchairs and strollers, and its perimeter of transparent glass will provide energizing natural light and views to the park and urban environment, with views from outside into the galleries. The display of all art on one level avoids giving more prominence to any specific culture, tradition, or era, offering visitors a multitude of perspectives on art and art history in a more accessible and inclusive way.

The building also includes a new theater, education spaces, three restaurant/cafes, a museum shop, and covered multipurpose event spaces.

Elaine Wynn and Tony Ressler, co-chairs of LACMA’s Board of Trustees, said, “The Board of Trustees is thrilled that the County of Los Angeles has approved the building project to go forward and approved funding for their generous contribution. The County’s contribution is the backbone of this entire project, helping propel this plan forward. This building marks the culmination of a decade of transformation at LACMA, and we can’t wait to see how Peter Zumthor’s building will redefine the experience of art.”

All renderings from Atelier Peter Zumthor

A Breakthrough for LA County’s Bioscience Industry

A state-of-the-art medical research building with a bioscience incubator recently opened at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, marking a significant breakthrough in Los Angeles County’s bioscience initiative.

Owned and operated by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, also known as LA BioMed, the $63-million, 78,000-sq. ft. facility is one of the most advanced medical research buildings in the nation. It contains both wet and dry labs, freezer farms and an auditorium.

One of its key features is an 18,000-sq. ft. bioscience incubator operated by BioLabs, called BioLabs LA BioMed, that can host up to 30 bioscience startups and offers $1 million in shared equipment, private offices and meeting space.

“LA BioMed’s new research facility, with its state-of-the art bioscience incubator, holds the promise of medical advances and discoveries that can transform the way we diagnose and treat diseases, potentially saving lives,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And it is only one of many initiatives currently under way to make Los Angeles County a world leader in bioscience.”

“The opening of our new medical research building is a milestone for LA BioMed,” said David Meyer, PhD, President and CEO, LA BioMed. “It will allow us to recruit and retain the best investigators, giving them world-class labs and work spaces where they can develop new treatments and therapeutics for years to come.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas facilitated the medical research building’s construction on County-owned land. He also invested $3 million in County funds to build the bioscience incubator, and $1 million for operating expenses, demonstrating his commitment to turning Los Angeles County into a top-tier bioscience cluster.

Philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist matched the Supervisor’s $3 million to build the bioscience incubator, while the Economic Development Administration provided $800,000 to equip it.

LA Biomed CEO David Meyer is presented a scroll by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“When I first visited LA BioMed, I was amazed by the lifesaving innovations taking place, despite extremely modest facilities,” said Richard Lundquist, CEO and owner of Continental Development Corporation. “I am proud to have taken an active role in the construction of this new building, and nobody deserves a state of the art new home more than Dr. Meyer and LA BioMed’s investigators.”

The Lundquists previously announced a $70- million gift to LA BioMed that will help the institute undertake more discoveries and launch many more companies that will meaningfully boost Southern California as a biotech center. As a result of the gift, LA BioMed will be renamed the Lundquist Institute in the near future.

LA BioMed has a track record of successfully commercializing discoveries, having spun off 13 startups in the last 12 years. Those include Emmaus Medical, which has developed a treatment for sickle cell disease that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and NovaDigm Therapeutics, which is developing vaccines for fungal and bacterial infections commonly contracted at hospitals. The institute has also licensed products to two publicly-traded companies, including Kybella, a popular injectable treatment that removes fat from under the chin.

LA Biomed’s state-of-the-art new medical research facility with a bioscience incubator at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus in Torrance. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

A Progress Report on Child Welfare Reforms

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress hosted a retrospective look at the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection’s landmark report, The Road to Safety for Our Children, on the fifth anniversary of its release.

Blue Ribbon Commission 5 Year Anniversary Roundtable DiscussionThe Board of Supervisors empaneled the Commission after the tragic murder of eight-year old Gabriel Fernandez in Palmdale. On April 18, 2014, the Commission, chaired by Dr. David Sanders, released 66 recommendations in the following six domains:

  • Prevention
  • Safety
  • Permanency
  • Well-Being
  • Global Impact; and
  • County Administration.

For stakeholders who attended the event in Exposition Park, it was a chance to look back at the progress in implementing the Commission’s reform recommendations.

Blue Ribbon Commission 5 Year Anniversary Roundtable Discussion

Undesign the Redline

Undesign the Redline, an interactive exhibition that traces the history and legacy of housing discrimination and segregation across Los Angeles and the United States, will be on display in April at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration to commemorate Fair Housing Month.

Created by the social impact firm Designing the We, the interactive exhibition traces how government policy going back to the 1930s, known as “redlining,” created racial segregation and disinvestment that, in some communities, persist to this day. The exhibition uses powerful narratives of people and communities, maps, historical artifacts, storytelling, photographs and activities to illustrate redlining’s roots and lasting repercussions.

Enterprise Community Partners and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas partnered with Designing the We to bring the interactive exhibition to the seat of Los Angeles County government.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “I encourage all to come and experience the exhibit, as we must know our history in order to avoid repeating it. It was not until 1968, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, that the right to equal housing opportunities was guaranteed. As we grapple with this region’s housing crisis, this exhibition informs us of the historical impact of housing discrimination, especially redlining, that took place in all corners of our nation, including Los Angeles.”

Undesign the Redline puts into perspective the local community landscape and the history of Los Angeles, including the stories of:

  • The history of Watts as a visionary plan as a “free city” of blacks and other disenfranchised groups
  • Loren Miller & the fight against deed discrimination
  • The Federation of the High Cost of Living, which was formed to explore how rental costs could be lowered
  • The mothers of East Los Angeles
  • Bunker Hill redevelopment and urban renewal

“Undesign the Redline sheds light on how the explicitly discriminatory housing practices of redlining continues to influence the design and growth patterns of Los Angeles today. The relics of these practices are present in the form of displacement, gentrification and a vast homelessness crisis. Learning this history inspires us to change that legacy and advance a path forward that will transform our communities,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, VP and Southern California market leader, Enterprise.

The Los Angeles County Hall of Administration is located at  500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. The exhibit is located in the Second Floor Atrium, Grand Park Entrance, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Accountability in Probation

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Charges Filed Against Probation Officers

“The filing of criminal charges against six Probation officers validates the earlier concerns we raised about excessive – and now potentially illegal – use of pepper spray in our juvenile halls and camps. It also underscores the urgent need to safely and responsibly phase out the use of pepper spray, and to implement stronger oversight and other changes to be recommended by the Probation Reform and Implementation Team (PRIT). I hope the Probation Department will continue to have a zero tolerance policy for staff misconduct.”