Construction underway on The Broad Museum on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles.

Construction underway on The Broad Museum on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles.

The Broad Museum is still under construction in downtown LA. The $140 million complex, named for wealthy LA philanthropist Eli Broad, will be finished sometime next year.

But today, reporters were given a hard-hat tour of the building.

I went along, and talked to Steve Chiotakis about what I saw:

The big piece of news today is that admission to the museum will be free. There will be special exhibitions that will come with a charge, but the organization says there’ll be some discounted admission available.

The museum is on Grand Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. It’s an impressive block, with Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, REDCAT, The Music Center, Colburn School and Grand Park.

A photo opportunity. From left: Elizabeth Diller of design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro; founding director of the Broad, Joanne Heyler; Eli Broad; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Not wearing their hard hats. From left: Elizabeth Diller of design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro; founding director of the Broad, Joanne Heyler; Eli Broad; and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The museum is made of concrete, steel, and fiberglass reinforced concrete. It was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the studio behind the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the High Line in New York, the Institute for Contemporary Arts in Boston, and much more.

The building has LEED Silver certification (a step below gold and platinum). It will have electric car charging stations, rooftop drains routed to street gardens to filter the runoff, and high-efficiency plumbing.

Scaffolding covers much of The Broad. The museum isn't expected to open until late 2014.

Scaffolding covers much of The Broad. The museum isn’t expected to open until late 2014.

The design incorporates two elements they’ve called “the veil” and “the vault.” The vault is shaped like an anvil inside the building. That’s where the archive and storage is, and takes up most of the second floor. The veil is a porous, honeycomb-like structure that surrounds the building, letting in natural light. On the first floor there’ll be a bookshop, retail store and restaurant, a lobby with art, and a special exhibition space. There’s an escalator, circular elevator, and stairwell that takes you to the third floor. There’s about an acre of gallery space there, with 23 foot tall ceilings, and that’s where the permanent exhibition is housed.

What’ll be on the walls? The Broad collection contains nearly 2,000 pieces. There’ll be works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, Alexander Calder, Urs Fischer, Barbara Kruger, Jasper Johns and others.

The founding director of the Broad, Joanne Heyler. Photos by Avishay Artsy.

The founding director of the Broad, Joanne Heyler. Photos by Avishay Artsy.

The founding director of the Broad, Joanne Heyler, is also the chief curator, and says the art will be different from MOCA Grand, just across the street.

“My hope would be that we offer a mixture of populist, well-known, established themes and artists, but also bring forward some investigative and more experimental shows as well, ” Heyler told me.

The museum is expected to open in late 2014.

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