Los Angeles’ downtown cultural hub on Grand Avenue gained a marquee building in 2015 with the opening of The Broad, a contemporary museum designed to house and showcase the 2,000-piece Broad art collection assembled by real estate moguls Eli and Edythe Broad. Designed by New York–based Diller Scofidio + Renfro with the local office of architectural firm Gensler, The Broad was conceived as two main programmatic elements, gallery and archive (or “vault”), draped with a “veil” of perforated fiber-reinforced concrete.
The museum’s exoskeleton combines structural performance with daylighting strategies: The self-supporting façade and roof allows for a column-free third-floor gallery space, while the apertures that pierce it aim northward to admit soft daylight through skylights. But with the formal language of the exterior’s repetitive façade comes the challenge of uniform lighting—one which Tillotson Design Associates addressed with measures aimed at both accentuating each cell within the façade and treating the façade as a whole surface.
At the street-level corners, the veil lifts to form the entrances, which are uplit with in-grade perimeter halogen fixtures outfitted with shutters to precisely light the canopies. Beneath the veil, the charcoal-colored mass of the vault rises from the ground to cantilever over the lobby and museum shop (this page). Recessed ports with flush-mounted fixtures provide subtle illumination for the ground-floor lobby without disturbing its smooth plastered ceiling. The vault’s cave-like underbelly is interrupted by cylindrical escalator shafts, a winding staircase bracketed with linear LED striplights in a perimeter cove, and a luminous-floored glass elevator that emerges into the third-floor gallery.
Inside the vault, fixtures are controlled to prevent overexposure of sensitive artworks, and align with storage system tracks. An indentation on the Grand Avenue façade presses into a multipurpose room, where wallwashers are interspersed in a general grid of downlights that highlight the architectural impression.
In-grade LED wallwashers and accent fixtures bathe the exterior shell in a gradient of light and provide dramatic contrast with shadow-filled cavities without creating reflections from glazing embedded in the shell. This treatment produces a glowing effect that makes the bright veil appear to hover over the dark vault within. On-site mock-ups ensured that the lighting would not exceed city guidelines. Along the museum’s southern edge, a pedestrian plaza planted with olive trees receives after-hours electric light from pole-mounted framing projectors that employ shutters to reduce light spill onto the façade.
With a lighting strategy that emphasizes contrast in the facade’s relief patterns, The Broad capitalizes on the interplay between surface and depth in a new arts destination for L.A.
Project: The Broad, Los Angeles • Client: The Broad, Los Angeles • Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York with Gensler, Los Angeles • Lighting Designer: Tillotson Design Associates, New York • Team Members: Suzan Tillotson, Erin Dreyfous, Megan Trimarchi • Photographer: John Muggenborg Photography • Project Size: 120,000 square feet • Project and Lighting Costs: Not Available • Watts per Square Foot: 1.19 • Code Compliance: Title 24 and ASHRAE 90.1-2007 • Manufacturers: B-K Lighting, LED Linear, Lucifer Lighting, Nulux, Spot on Lighting, We-ef
Deliberate strategy of where to put the light. • No hotspots. • Lighting doesn’t detract from the architectural form.