LACMA clears environmental assessment hurdle for $650 million museum project

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Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner

Los Angeles County has released the environmental impact report for the $650 million Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), allowing the museum to move forward with obtaining building permits, with groundbreaking expected in early 2020.

There are still complexities regarding the Peter Zumthor-designed building spanning Wilshire Boulevard, including rising construction costs which resulted in a 10 percent building size reduction, the Los Angeles Times has reported. As well, there are questions about the feasibility of the early 2014 planned opening date.

Eyestone Enviornmental‘s  575-page EIR  documents how the building will temporarily and permanently affect the community and its environment. The report found no permanent environmental impacts created by the proposed building, the newspaper reported. The museum said it will institute a mitigation plan to address temporary impacts, such as emissions and noise from construction vehicles, and parking and traffic congestion.

The EIR will go to the county Board of Supervisors for certification as early as April, when the board is expected to vote to release more funds. The county dispersed $7.5 million in 2015 for pre-construction costs. The county expects to disburse its remaining $117 million earmarked for the project.

Once the county grants final approval, the city of Los Angeles, which owns the airspace over Wilshire Boulevard where the building will span, will begin its approval process.

“The environmental document is a huge milestone. It’s a huge deal for the constituents of L.A. County,” said Brad Bolger, senior manager in the office of county Chief Executive Sachi A. Hamai. “It means we can move to completion of design and start of construction.”

“Construction costs have escalated dramatically, and LACMA and the county are very, very serious about staying within their means, financially,” Bolger said. “There’s so much construction going on in L.A. that builders have their choice of what they want to work on and their costs are at a premium — and LACMA wanted to make sure they stayed within the budget.”

So far, the museum has raised $560 million for its costs. LAMCA plans to start a public fundraising campaign to raise the remaining funds it needs to finish the project.

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