Spotlight: The Broad, Los Angeles

Close-up of The Broad Museum, LA, outer 'veil', by Architects by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.


Eli and Edythe Broad believe that “the greatest art collections are built when the art is being made“ and spent 50 years amassing the world’s leading postwar and contemporary art collections. The Broad’s then commissioned an architectural artwork to showcase and care for this treasure.

The inspiring effort offers visitors a uniquely immersed journey.

A Sculptural Journey

Assembled in layers and enveloped by a softly brutalist honeycombed veil, The Broad lands squarely on Grand Avenue in downtown LA. With its uniquely porous concept and presence, the museum treats visitors to a sculptural journey through the foundation womb of the building and up into the veil's parabolic light-filled galleries. Listen to Liz Diller, Principle architect of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, as she shares the design of The Broad.

The "Veil"

For architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, The Broad's design required a unique presence and perspective. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the building would compete for pride of place against iconic structures such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. To achieve this, everything about The Broad would be a study of contrast.

Establishing the first contrast is the distinctive “veil” that makes up the exterior skin of the building. This unique cellular exoskeleton squares the avenue corner, appearing sculpted and solid. It grounds the corner in contrast to the soaring, polished surfaces of the surrounding architecture.

The veil does more than provide a landmark exterior; it is deceptively porous and invites filtered natural daylight through to the upper gallery space. At the ground level, the skin of the building lifts at the corners, enticing visitors into the moody lower floor. Once inside, the visitor finds themself underneath the smooth belly of the next contrast.

The outside 'veil' of The Broad Museum, Los Angeles, by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The Layers Within

The sculptural journey continues as the visitor penetrates the outer “veil,” revealing the darker, heavy mass of the organically formed “Vault." This structure houses the core business of The Broad Art Foundation and the extensive study and art storage space of the worldwide lending library.

Visitors travel upward through this mass and emerge into the airy lightness of the art gallery. In this skylit space, visitors can wander through approximately 40,000 square feet of open exhibition space, showcasing the postwar and contemporary art drawn from The Broad Collections.

As collection viewing is complete, visitors are drawn down a winding stair through the core vault. On this leg of the journey, they are invited to be voyeurs behind the scenes of the Foundation’s lending library operations and vast Broad Collections. The visitor is woven into The Broad experience and then released through an open corner.

Angled close-up of The Broad Museum's 'veil' in LA, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The 'vault' opening and escalator, providing visitors a peek into the archives at The Broad Museum, LA.
The escalator leading up to the archives in The Broad Museum, LA.

Protecting Their Art

The gallery space of The Broad is expansive, and the Collection has room to breathe. In this instance, equipment used to protect artwork must be as curated as the Collection.

When there is room to wander without concern of walking into a treasure, protecting the security envelope of an artwork becomes minimal and specific. Art protection barriers (stanchions) like Absolute’s 400mm Freestanding Barrier’s and complementing Wall Terminators are used to significant effect by The Broad, neatly sealing the protective envelope around key exhibits.

Jeff Koons blue, mirror polished sculpture

Informing Their Visitors

Architectural finishes are a design element that lends cohesiveness to the design of a building, and The Broad’s use of stainless steel as the themed architectural metal aids visitors in knowing entry and exit routes on their journey. Matching that finish when introducing other equipment allows the equipment to belong to the environment.

The Broad successfully paired Absolute’s clean-lined stainless steel Information Stand with the sole stainless steel escalator. These further coordinate with the stair railings and elevator trims.

Absolute Freestanding Barriers, Wall Terminators, and Barrier Cord, protecting artworks in The Broad Museum, LA.
Inside The Broad Museum, LA, featuring striking white architecture and glass elevator.
Visitors of The Broad Museum, LA, looking at artworks protected by Absolute Museum & Gallery Art Stanchions.

Expert Advice

  1. Wall Terminators are a sleek button connection from the Art Barrier system to the wall, neatly sealing the protective envelope surrounding an artwork. Utilising this simple seal provides a physical and psychological protection leaving no doubt – don’t touch.

  2. Pay attention to a facility’s architectural metal profiles and finish, and match adjacent equipment like Information Stands. By coordinating these shapes and finishes, the equipment blends with architectural features. This is most important when the facility is minimal and contemporary. The wrong equipment shape and finish will call too much attention to itself and distract from the sculptural beauty.

An artwork on the wall at the Broad LA, protected by Absolute freestanding Stanchion Barriers 400mm
Painting at the Broad LA, protected by Absolute Freestanding Art Barriers


Related Links

The Broad LA Website -

Featured Video:

For a more extensive walk through the architectural project brief and resulting facility, we suggest reading Dezeen’s article, "The Broad by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, by Rose Etherton".


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Posted by Jade Turner
20th March 2023

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