1140 Formosa Ave. Lorcan O' Herlihy Architects.
Credit: Lawrence Anderson
More than two weeks after an article in the Los Angeles Times brought into question whether the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles was on the verge of cancelling an exhibit about Southern California architecture, the museum issued a statement saying that the show would indeed open—albeit two weeks late, on June 16. “The museum is excited to bring the architecture community in Los Angeles together in recognition of the world-class architecture that has been and continues to be conceived in the city by some of the most renowned and emerging firms and practitioners working today,” the statement read.
Organized by guest curator Christopher Mount, “A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California” was intended to shine a light on the last quarter century of avant-garde design in Los Angeles. The report that it might be cancelled caught many of the show’s participating architects by surprise (as reported in ARCHITECT earlier this month). The catalog was already in print; some three dozen designers had spent months laboring on the exhibition, building models and constructing elaborate pavilions made out of costly experimental materials.
Despite the museum’s announcement, many questions still linger about the largest of the J. Paul Getty Trust–funded “Pacific Standard Time Presents” series of architecture-themed shows. In the original L.A. Times report, Frank Gehry, FAIA, had announced that he was withdrawing from the exhibition over concerns about the curatorial direction—leaving a gap in the programming (and one of Southern California’s most prominent architects virtually absent from the Pacific Standard Time shows). Whether Gehry remains out of the picture is unclear. Also unknown is whether Mount remains on board as curator or whether the exhibition will be edited or reorganized in some way. (Gehry, Mount, and the museum did not respond to requests for comment.)
Despite the uncertainty, Arshia Mahmoodi of VOID, one of the participating architects, is relieved the show will go on. “This exhibition is the rare opportunity for the general public to come and see what’s possible,” he says. “Architects have exhibits at places like SCI-Arc and UCLA, but a lot of people don’t really see those. This will bring some attention and recognition to a new generation.”