Petersen Automotive Museum Stops Critics in Their Tracks

Photo by David Zaitz.
Roof of Petersen Automotive Museum; photo by David Zaitz. The exterior remodel was designed by Eugene Kohn.

“When Disney Hall opened in 2003, it was hailed as “flamboyant,” “sublime,” and “exquisite.”

The new makeover of the Petersen Automotive Museum at Fairfax and Wilshire has its fans, too. But this week’s grand reopening has also been greeted with zingers like “insane,” “tasteless” and “a different kind of hideous.”

The wavy silver and red exterior seems to be a “love-it-or-hate it” kind of thing – maybe more at home on the Vegas strip than mid-Wilshire. But it’s certainly created a lively conversation about architecture in LA.

That was the opening to a lively conversation between Madeleine Brand and Frances Anderton on this broadcast of Press Play.

They discuss why critics have had such conniptions about the design; how it represents just what makes LA different from Boston and New York; what it means to be sited directly opposite to the ultra-minimalist design by Peter Zumthor planned for LACMA; why the heads of the museums at the Wilshire Fairfax intersection did not confer on their plans for new buildings, and what it means to have opened a car museum right in the middle of the Paris climate change talks.

Interior of the Petersen Automotive Museum, designed by The Scenic Route. Photo by David Zaitz.
Interior of the Petersen Automotive Museum, designed by The Scenic Route. Photo by David Zaitz.

Listen up — and let us know where you stand on the little museum that has suddenly powered itself into the city’s consciousness. Check out all our other coverage of the Petersen, here.

Photo by David Zaitz.
Exterior of Petersen Automotive Museum; photo by David Zaitz