By Hayley Fox | Downtown News
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Steel workers, construction crews and city officials passed around Sharpies and signed a ceremonial white steel beam at the Broad Museum on Tuesday morning, signifying a key step in the structure's construction process.
This "topping out" ceremony, in which the beam was later hoisted to the top of the building, marks the transition into the building's final stages.
Willie Castaneda is a carpenter foreman with Matt Construction, the company building the Broad Museum. Castaneda said they have worked on many other well-known projects in the area including the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Colburn School -- but the Broad Museum is an entirely different feat.
“It’s a museum, so all museums are really high-end projects that have some of the best designs that the architects come up with,” he said.
When completed, this 120,000-square-foot contemporary art museum will be three stories high and include about 2,000 works of art. Featured artists will include well-known names from the 50s to present day, including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Philanthropist Eli Broad is the namesake of the new museum and said he has already accumulated the art works that will fill it. He said he and his wife have lived in Los Angeles for 50 years and love the city.
“I’ve always believed that every great city needs a vibrant center – and Los Angeles didn’t have one," said Broad. "But starting about 30 years ago, it started - and it’s accelerated. More and more people are living Downtown; more and more people want to move downtown. It’ll be great for the region.”
The museum is one piece of the multifaceted Grand Avenue Project that hopes to further revitalize Downtown with a new retail center, hotel and restaurants. A residential tower slated for next door to the museum officially breaks ground on Thursday is expected to be completed in 2014.
According to a press release, the museum will support over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $178 million in economic impact to the region. Broad said that without Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa the museum wouldn't have ended up in Downtown.
Villaraigosa said although the Grand Avenue project as a whole was delayed by the economic downturn, he was confident it would continue to progress well past his term.
“I know when the economy comes back there's a great opportunity with the Grand Avenue Project to create another anchor on the other side of Downtown,” he said.
As far as his mayoral legacy, Villaraigosa said he will continue to work until it's time for him to "ride into the sunset."
“I don’t think much of legacy frankly, but I do think that what I said early on I'm showing to be true," he said. "And that is, I'm gonna work until the last day I'm here.”
Designs for the Broad museum were unveiled in 2011 and showcase a building with a honeycomb lattice exterior and column free gallery space interior intended to maximize display possibilities.
The building is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and will include 50,000 square feet of gallery space on two floors, a lecture hall for up to 200 people and a public lobby with display space and a museum shop.
In 2011, architect Elizabeth Diller said in a press release: “As opposed to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior that reflects light, The Broad will be porous and absorptive, channeling light into its public spaces and galleries."
The museum is expected to be completed by 2014.