Groundbreaking on Zumthor-Designed LACMA Building Delayed

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Groundbreaking on a new building designed by Peter Zumthor for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is six months behind schedule, according to a recent story in The Los Angeles Times.

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The process, including building permits and entitlements, is taking longer than expected, Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, told the LA Times.

The new building will be the realization of Govan’s more than decade-long dream to create a town square along the museum-heavy Miracle Mile. But with groundbreaking now aimed for late 2019—Govan faces a string of new challenges.

Among them, U.S. tariffs on steel and other escalating building costs, general inflation and a construction boom in Los Angeles that all together threaten to further inch up the cost of the project. (The building’s price tag has already jumped to $650 million from $600 million to provide for contingency costs associated with some of these factors.)

Adding to the increased costs, the museum’s $650 million fundraising campaign is going slowly. LACMA’s latest fundraising total is about $550 million, Govan said, with that self-imposed goal of $600 million before the end of the year. LACMA got a $150 million pledge from media mogul David Geffen last year, but no major gifts have been announced since.

Govan estimated that unless he reaches the $600 million fundraising mark by roughly the end of this year, they “would really have to reevaluate the amount of money we’d have to raise.” That would extend the fundraising period and could further raise building costs.

Another potential game-changing deadline comes this fall when the project’s final environmental impact report will be complete. It will address seismic engineering, geotechnical issues, building permits and entitlements and also determine whether L.A. County releases $125 million it promised toward the project.