Bridge Over Wilshire Boulevard: LACMA Goes Big

Architect Peter Zumthor tweaks his plans for the art museum.

If you've driven or strolled the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard between Hauser Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, you know there's a lot of attention-garnering things to grab your notice.

Those mammoth statues, including the one stuck in the largest of the La Brea Tar Pits, are one eye-catcher. The Urban Light installation, all aglow, counts, too. And the big gold tube running up the side of the May Co. building.

And there may be one more rather hard-to-miss addition in years to come: A walkway over Wilshire Boulevard, extending from the re-imagined Los Angeles County Museum of Art on the north side of the boulevard to a spot near Spaulding Avenue on the south edge.

Call it LA's newest bridge.

The recently released renderings lend a polished and dramatic futuristic note to the Miracle Mile, which is famous for its way, way, wayback history (hello, tar pits) and its wayback history (deco and mid-century architecture).

If you've paused here to scratch your head as you try and remember the museum renderings you saw a year ago, scratch no more: Architect Peter Zumthor's plans for LACMA have changed, due to the original plans's cheek-by-jowl-ness with the La Brea Tar Pits.

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Scientists said this cozy concept was a no-go, in short, due to the potential issues the new building might bring to the ancient fossil site. The earlier rendering showed the future LACMA cantilevering, in part, over the largest pit.

So Mr. Zumthor made another pass at the plan, which received its own exhibit at the museum in 2013, then looked south, to Wilshire Boulevard, and the now-parking lot that sits across the street. Could a bridge be built? And could the museum extend its reach across one of the world's most famous boulevards and a street that is among LA's most fabled?

Stay tuned. Miracle Mile, for all of its history, is apparently about to take a jet-ride to the future, complete with a Purple Line Metro stop at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

While the LACMA over-Wilshire bridge is being built, can visionaries also save Johnie's Coffee Shop? Perhaps, as has been long-discussed, make it the Metro entrance?

Dream big, Miracle Mile. You do, after all, have "miracle" in your very moniker.

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