GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY at MOCA

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is a staple art museum in the Los Angeles cultural arts arena. Designed by world-renowned local architect Frank Gehry in the early 1980’s, it was intended as a temporary home for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art while its Grand Ave location was been developed. Once the Grand Ave location was completed and the museum opened to the public, love and support for the Geffen location and its warehouse look and feel created the desire for MOCA to keep it operational as a satellite museum space to their main location within the city.

In early 2015 the Geffen Contemporary reached out to Frank Gehry requesting a little help in transforming the original steel and chain link canopy structure that exists out front of the museum in the vacated portion of South Central Ave. They were looking for ways to save and also transform the steel canopy element into a both a sunshade element during the day and to a lighting element in the evenings to help support a more outdoor events program the museum was exploring. Frank’s office put together some initial design ideas for the project and due to the small nature of the project then handed it off to (fer) studio (whose President & Design Principal Mercier worked for Gehry for 10 years) to assist the Geffen in coming to a final design conclusion and implementation.

FER took over the project working with the Geffen team to develop various shading options based on the initial Gehry design, some of which included a new metal sheeting/metal framing approach and another using a canvas sail-type approach. In addition the existing plaza space below the canopy was reconsidered with a new movable bench/tree planter design and the original ticket booth building was reconsidering as a possible food concession stand to sell coffee and small pre-packages goods. BuroHappold Engineering were also involved as it become evident early on that the existing steel canopy would require some seismic retrofit work.

The project went through various design and drawing phases including the on-site mock up testing of various canvas awning type options. In the end the Geffen elected not to move forward due to programming changes and budgeting and put the project on hold for the time being.  

Team

Architect / Principal Christopher Mercier
Project Architect Simone Salame
Project Architect Frank Palomares
Structural Engineer BuroHappold Engineering
Contractor Taslimi Construction Company, Inc.
Food Service Consultant Restaurant Design International
MEP Engineer Engineered Solutions
Canopy Shading Eide Industries, Inc.