Some LA cultural construction projects continue, others paused during COVID-19 shutdown

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While the $750,000 million Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) project and the Hammer Museum in Westwood are moving ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be paused.

The Los Angeles Times reports that plans to demolish four structures on LACMA’s campus remain on track for April, with construction targeted for late summer.

Preconstruction work by on LACMA’s main building — “including asbestos removal, demolition of internal walls and the erecting of construction barriers around parts of the campus — is still on track, the museum said, adding that it’s working with L.A. County officials and following state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health guidelines,” newspaper reported.

Architect Christopher C. Martin, whose 114-year-old family firm, AC Martin, designed and built Los Angeles City Hall as well as the former May Co. building next door to LACMA, pointed out the ramifications of delaying any work.

“The most expensive component of construction is time,” Martin said. “A delay would cost more than concrete and steel and labor. It’d be foolhardy to reallocate funds because it would significantly damage the investment in place.”

Meanwhile, Matt Construction is continuing work on the $90 million Hammer Museum building expansion. Company president Marvin Wheat said workers are following a 17-point COVID-19 prevention policy. The museum has been targeting a late 2020 completion date for the project, which will expand gallery space by 60 peercent and include a new entrance along Wilshire Boulevard, the Times reported.

However, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures next door to LACMA decided to pause the final stages of its construction a day before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s safer-at-home order. The museum will reassess construction timelines as the pandemic unfolds, museum representative Stephanie Sykes said, but the plan is still to open the $482-million complex designed by Renzo Piano to the public on Dec. 14.

As well, the $1-billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, filmmaker George Lucas’ addition to L.A.’s Exposition Park, has paused construction. The Lucas Museum was aiming to complete construction in late 2021, and representative Alex Capriotti said she couldn’t speculate on changes to the timeline, the newspaper reported.

Tony Olea III, vice president of the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 300, which represents more than 8,000 people in L.A. County, was quoted as saying that  workers across the city are not only trying to keep six feet apart but are wiping down equipment.

“I don’t believe it’s harmful for them to be working as long as they’re following safety practices,” Olea said.

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