The veil functions both as the primary facade and the daylighting system, providing a sense of connection between the gallery spaces and the city.
The Broad Museum will open its doors to the public on Sunday, 5 years after after Diller Scofidio + Renfro won a small invite-only design competition to design a space for Eli Broad’s immense contemporary art collection. All of the public spaces in the museum are created between the building’s two enclosure systems, coined the “vault and veil” by DS+R. The veil, a daylight-absorbing concrete exoskeleton balances performance with fashion, while an interior vault protects a nearly 2,000 piece art collection. Visitors move over, under and through the vault, which consumes almost half of the 120,000 sq. ft., 3-story building.
The exterior facade assembly consists of a steel frame clad with 2,500 glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels which were precast on custom CNC formed molds. Evidence of the GFRC’s digital fabrication process can be prominently seen on the main elevation where a large dimple provides a smooth undulation in the façade. Kevin Rice, Project Director for DS+R, explains this formal move was a deliberate reaction against the repetitiveness of the elevation: “We were studying the capabilities of digital fabrication and wanted to move the design of concrete facades beyond the brutalist facades of the 60s and 70s.”
Galleries on the third floor sit under 328 skylights supported from a 200’ long span structure composed of 6’ deep plate girders. The skylight monitors are designed to encapsulate the structure of the roof, the lighting system (a combination of daylight and LED), the waterproofing and drainage system, and the fire & life safety systems. All of these functions have been coordinated by DS+R to fit seamlessly within the language of the vault.
Rice speaks of the benefits to this rigorously designed roof system: “The skylights are designed to maximize the reflected light from the north sky while eliminating all direct sunlight from entering the space. This allows for the tight conservation controls for the art while eliminating the need for electric light for much of the day.”
The building’s siting across the street from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall notably had an influence on the aesthetics of the facade. Elizabeth Diller said she wanted the building to be strikingly different from Gehry’s building: “We realized it was just useless to try to compete – there is no comparison to that building,” Diller said. “We just had to do something that is mindful and that knows where it is […] Compared to Disney Hall’s smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channeling light into the public spaces and galleries.” What results is a wall system which functions both as the primary facade and the daylighting system, providing a sense of connection between the gallery spaces and the city.