An Undeniable Architectural Favorite

By: Laura Kapp

In 2007, the Los Angeles City Council named October as LArchitecture Month to recognize architects and the significant contributions they’ve made to the City’s culture and municipal life. Each year since then, AIA|LA facilitates special celebrations, educational events, and new opportunities to explore unique or otherwise closed-to-the-public buildings around the City.

This year, we elected to add our own RKA spin on the special month by polling our team members as to their all-time favorite building in LA. Since we all find inspiration in different things, moments, or places, I assumed there’d be 12 different responses. But, I was wrong!

We agreed that The Broad in Downtown LA “is it” because it always, undeniably, provides an exciting architectural experience. Here are a few stand out elements that make our architect hearts beat a little bit faster:

The Broad is a simple concept: an interior "vault" covered by the exterior "veil" facade. However, the way these two relationships are explored is what truly makes the project exciting. Near the main entries to the museum the facade is peeled back, allowing the public to experience the "between" space of the veil and the vault. In these moments you can look up and see the complex structure that holds the façade in place.


There are also moments where the veil completely engages the building. For instance, in the top floor galleries the facade is used as a system to distribute indirect daylight to the artwork below. The filtered light creates a beautiful pattern while still allowing for uniform distribution to enjoy the immense collections in the gallery.

In one special instance, the interior rebels and pokes through the facade to create the glass "eye" - a window from the conference room. This "eye" almost seems to defy the materiality of the facade, making it feel more fluid than solid.

This fluidity is also emphasized through the facade’s interaction with the sun. Throughout the day the shadows stretch and compress along the facade making the seemingly uniform panels read as unique characters. This constant variability provides a new experience of the building on every visit.


On the interior, this fluidity is experienced in the cave-like museum lobby. The floors, walls, and ceiling all appear as if a strong river had come and smoothed the rough cave edges into sinuous curves. As you rise in the escalator from the dark lobby through the cave you are opened to a bright white gallery full of a collection of treasures.

As you can see, this simple, yet intriguing structure has something for everyone and we’re grateful it does. Now, a team outing is calling!