With over $650 million pledged to date, Building LACMA is propelling LACMA into a new era, fulfilling its vision of building a museum for the 21st century and of serving the widest array of audiences possible. Following LACMA’s successful Transformation Campaign, fundraising for Building LACMA has forged an historic public-private partnership led by extraordinary commitments from the County of Los Angeles, David Geffen, Elaine Wynn, the W.M. Keck Foundation, Susan and Eric Smidt, and A. Jerrold Perenchio, as well as remarkable support from LACMA’s board of trustees and from other major philanthropists. 

The centerpiece of the Building LACMA campaign is the creation of a new permanent collection building on the museum's Wilshire campus. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor and named the David Geffen Galleries, this building marks the culmination of a 20-year plan to transform LACMA’s Wilshire campus. The first phase of the plan was completed with the opening of BCAM in 2008 and the Resnick Exhibition Pavilion in 2010. The new building will solidify the museum’s place as the cultural town square of Los Angeles for its one million annual visitors. 

Extending across Wilshire Boulevard, the single elevated gallery floor is designed for an egalitarian approach to displaying art, placing objects from all areas of the museum’s collections on an equal level—a fresh, Los Angeles perspective on the experience of a big art museum. The form of the exhibition level represents LACMA’s commitment to an open, accessible, and varied presentation of its collections and to engaging the many audiences across the County of Los Angeles.

The David Geffen Galleries fits into a larger vision for LACMA to redefine and maximize the potential of a museum with diverse collections, offering an alternative to the traditional encyclopedic museum model.


  • Message from the Director

    Building FAQ

    About the Architect

    Construction Updates

    Learn More at BuildingLACMA.org



The history of art is long, but the history of museums is short. The art museum as we know it has existed for less than three hundred years, a cabinet of far-flung curiosities first created for societies not yet familiar with the airplane, the television, or the internet. So much has changed in the world; the art museum must evolve as well.

Peter Zumthor’s plan for the new building to house LACMA’s galleries offers an alternative to the traditional museum model. His design is grounded in his commitment to creating “emotional space,” which mirrors LACMA’s own mission to cultivate meaningful connections between art and the people appreciating it.

Glass walls invite museum visitors to look out at the landscape and light of Los Angeles, and allow passersby to see in. This translucent exterior visually connects the galleries to everyday life on Wilshire Boulevard and in the surrounding park, and offers spectacular views of the city and mountains beyond. Zumthor’s design also adds ample new public outdoor space to create an even more accessible cultural and social hub for the community.

The horizontality of the new building is both a reflection of Los Angeles and a core concept within LACMA’s vision for presenting the permanent collection. It positions art from all areas of the museum’s diverse collections on the same plane, to better accommodate the shift in LACMA’s curatorial strategy from fixed presentations to rotating exhibitions of the permanent collection. The building is designed to mirror the diversity of our vast city and, through design and spirit, to advance LACMA’s mission to serve the public by encouraging profound cultural experiences for the widest array of audiences.

In order to build on the success and legacy of LACMA’s more than 50 years, the museum must lay a strong foundation for the future now. With extraordinary support from the County of Los Angeles and the board of trustees, as well as leadership gifts from David Geffen—whose historic gift is recognized in the building’s name, the David Geffen Galleries—and a number of other donors, fundraising for the project has been extremely successful and only continues to exceed expectations.

This success means the museum stands poised to complete the next step in its transformation, creating a landmark that will identify LACMA for its next 50 years and beyond.

Michael Govan
CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director

What does the new building project entail?
The building project entails the construction of one modern and efficient building to replace four aging buildings (Ahmanson, Art of the Americas, Bing, Hammer), as well as the construction of a parking structure on Ogden Drive to replace the spaces on the existing Spaulding Avenue parking lot.

Why is LACMA replacing its old buildings?
The old buildings have many serious structural issues and problems with plumbing, sewage, lack of seismic isolation and methane mitigation, defunct waterproofing, and leaks, compromising their ability to host our visitors and hold our collections.

Why can’t you repair the buildings you have?
To retrofit the existing buildings would be extremely costly while still failing to provide the ideal setting for the collections and visitors. Almost 20 years ago, and again in 2014, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and LACMA’s Board of Trustees considered repairing the structures, and in both cases they found the retrofitting cost prohibitive. Five years ago, the minimum estimated cost to retrofit just the visible deterioration was $246 million. Constructing new allows the museum to create both a safer building and new galleries designed to be more accessible, more functional, and more enjoyable.

Why are the galleries one level?
The horizontal design offers an egalitarian experience of LACMA’s diverse collections. Displaying all art on a single 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, inclusive way. The single-level gallery floor will also 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.

Why does the building cross Wilshire Boulevard?
The new building spans Wilshire in order to provide 3.5 acres of new park and outdoor space for visitors in Hancock Park and the Natural History Museum’s research. This public outdoor space will be home to even more public sculptures and is an invaluable resource in our dense urban community

How big will the new building be?
The new building totals 347,500 square feet, replacing approximately 393,000 square feet of existing buildings. There will be approximately 110,000 square feet of gallery space, replacing approximately 120,000 square feet of gallery space. The building also includes a new theater, education spaces, three restaurant/cafes, a museum shop, and covered multipurpose event spaces. Much-improved ancillary and back-of-house facilities will support LACMA’s public programs, including two loading docks and enhanced security, facilities operations, visitor services, transit art handling, and more.

How did you reduce the size of the new building from the size of the existing buildings?
The reduction in total size from that of the existing buildings is made possible by moving functions not needed within the building itself: the museum has moved offices across the street, expanding our existing office space at 5900 Wilshire, and moved art storage out of Hancock Park.

How much will LACMA’s gallery space have increased in total once the new building is completed?
By the time the new building opens, we will have expanded our total gallery space from approximately 130,000 in 2007 to 220,000 square feet.

Does LACMA need more gallery space in its Wilshire campus?LACMA’s Board of Trustees and the County Board of Supervisors believe that after doubling our exhibition space over the last decade, this is the appropriate size for our campus on Wilshire.

What is the budget for the new building?
Of the $750 million campaign goal, the total building budget is $650 million, which includes construction costs, soft costs, and contingencies. Of the $650 million, the construction costs (“hard costs”) are estimated at $490 million. The construction cost is in line with similar projects and the cost per square foot of LACMA's Renzo Piano-designed gallery buildings, BCAM and Resnick Exhibition Pavilion (adjusted for inflation)

How is this new building being funded?
This building project is funded through an unprecedented public-private partnership where the County of Los Angeles will contribute $125 million and $625 million will come from private donations. The County will receive a 4:1 match for its contribution

How much has been raised?
Over $650 million has been raised to date. The museum’s trustees and leadership are actively engaged in securing the remaining amount

How much is the construction cost per square foot?
The construction cost is approximately $1,400 per square foot, which is toward the low end of the range for new museum construction (the current national market range for new museum construction in major metro areas is $1,250 to $1,800 per square feet). Out of the $650 million budget, the total construction cost is approximately $490 million. $490 million divided by 347,500 square feet is equal to $1,400 per square foot.

Is LACMA reducing space for the permanent collection?
No. The new building gives us the flexibility to display collection areas for longer periods or to present permanent collections as temporary exhibitions, giving visitors opportunities to see more art from the permanent collection in greater variety. Additionally, LACMA has always displayed works from the permanent collection in special exhibitions in BCAM and the Resnick Pavilion, and will continue to do so.  The first floor of BCAM also exhibits some of our most treasured permanent collection works, such as Richard Serra’s Band and Robert Irwin’s Miracle Mile.

The new building has a lot of glass. Aren't museums supposed to avoid natural light?
Thousands of works in our collection (sculpture, tiles, ceramics, and more) can be safely displayed in natural light, and are in fact wonderful to view in that setting. The new building will have a range of exhibition spaces, from galleries with natural light to galleries with controlled artificial lighting. The majority of galleries in the new building are designed to be able to display light-sensitive works. Natural light and views to the park along the perimeter of the building also will reduce fatigue in our visitors

Why are the gallery walls concrete?
Concrete was chosen to give the building a sublime aesthetic character and beautiful sense of gravitas. Concrete walls have been utilized successfully in other museums like the Kimbell, the Guggenheim, and Kunsthaus Bregenz. Not one artist whose work was displayed at Bregenz has ever covered that museum's walls with sheetrock. Additionally, many objects and antiquities in our collection originated in buildings or other settings built from stone, so it is particularly fitting to display them in concrete-walled galleries.

Will Urban Light be moved?
Urban Light will stay in place and visitors will continue to be able to enjoy the artwork.

Is the construction on the former May Company building part of LACMA's project?
No. The construction on the former May Company building is the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures being built by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The globe-shaped structure that is visible to the west of LACMA houses the Academy Museum’s theater.

Where would LACMA expand in the future?
LACMA is pursuing the next phase of its expansion through additional museum spaces across L.A. County, enhancing the accessibility of our collections and bringing art and art education to communities throughout our vast county. We already have ongoing exhibition, education, and public programming at Charles White Elementary School in MacArthur Park, collaborations with the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, and additional museums currently being planned in South L.A

What is the timeline for the new building?
Construction began in 2020. The building will be completed by the end of 2023 and open to the public in 2024

Peter Zumthor’s designs are distinguished by their clarity of thought, mastery of light, and poetic relationships to their sites. As former Pritzker Prize jury chairman The Lord Palumbo stated, “Zumthor has a keen ability to create places that are much more than a single building. His architecture expresses respect for the primacy of the site, the legacy of a local culture and the invaluable lessons of architectural history.”

Summing up his intentions in his 1998 treatise Thinking Architecture, Zumthor wrote, “In a society that celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language. Every building is built for a specific use in a specific place and for a specific society. My buildings try to answer the questions that emerge from these simple facts as precisely and critically as they can.”

While much of his work is in Switzerland, Zumthor has also designed buildings in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Norway. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the field’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, in 2009; the Praemium Imperiale from the Imperial Family of Japan on behalf of the Japan Art Association in 2008; the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2013; and the Großer BDA Preis from the Association of German Architects in 2017.

He has been a professor at the Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio, Switzerland; the University of Southern California and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles; the Technische Universität, Munich; and the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge.

Zumthor was born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1943. As a teenager he learned cabinetmaking from his father and then studied architecture at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel and later at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In 1979 he established his own architectural practice in Haldenstein, Switzerland, where he still works with a small staff

The following work will be conducted next week:

  • Structural demolition of the Art of Americas and Hammer Buildings continues.
  • Selective demolition of the Ahmanson Building continues.
  • Grading of the Spaulding Lot is complete and installation of the soldier beams for the shoring system will begin.
  • Relocation of utilities west of the Resnick Pavilion continues.
  • The sidewalk on the north side of Wilshire between Urban Light and Curson Avenue will be closed from August 3–9 in order to allow for safety during the demolition of the frontage of the Art of the Americas Building. Pedestrian traffic will be re-directed and signage and flaggers will be posted 24/7 during the closure.
  • The sidewalk closure allows for the completion of the demolition of the Art of the Americas Building.


Our general contractor, Clark Construction, is working diligently to ensure a safe work environment for the crews working on the site, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. To that end, Clark Construction and its subcontractors have taken all necessary protective measures in accordance with government guidelines, which include the following:

  • As in all of their ongoing projects throughout the country, Clark Construction is requiring that all work be done in accordance with OSHA guidelines and industry best practices, with workers in full protective gear, enhanced cleaning protocols, and social distancing rules.

  • Hazmat abatement and internal demolition crews are fitted with full-body clothing/hazmat suits, gloves, eye protection, and breathing equipment, and all personnel working outside the buildings are required at all times to wear protective gloves, eye protection, face covering, and head protection.

  • All personnel on the project go through a symptom screen before the start of work, including temperature and symptom checks.

  • All workers are required to exercise social distancing of six feet or more, and all indoor meetings have been eliminated.

  • Additional hand washing stations have been installed and the frequency with which they are cleaned and supplied has been increased.

  • The frequency of cleaning of all high-touch areas, including portable bathrooms and shared tools, has been increased.

  • Workers are encouraged to wash hands frequently and anyone who exhibits any respiratory symptoms is required to quarantine at home.

  • An on-site COVID-19 supervisor, who is also a medic, has been designated and is in charge of ensuring implementation of all proper protocols and guidelines.