The A+D Architecture and Design Museum > Los Angeles has existed since 2001, in various locations around the city. But it’s never had its own permanent exhibition space—until now. On April 27, it celebrated the grand opening of its new building, a remodeled Moderne–style commercial structure on L.A.’s Museum Row. (The remodel was designed by a team from Kanner Architects, Richard Meier & Partners Architects, and Gensler, and built by a team that included Hinerfeld-Ward (supervising contractor), Turner Construction Company, Hathaway Dinwiddie, Matt Construction, and Minardos Group.)

Among the museum’s upcoming exhibitions are COME IN!: A Spatial Intervention (working title), July 1–Aug. 30; a showcase of the AIA/LA Design Awards, Sept. 10–Oct. 28; and Never Built (working title), an unbuilt architecture exhibition in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute, Nov. 11, 2010–Jan. 24, 2011.  

residential architect recently spoke with museum president and co-founder Stephen Kanner, FAIA, of Kanner Architects, and museum director Tibbie Dunbar about the new building. 

A rendering of the now-complete A+D Architecture and Design Museum > Los Angeles.
Credit: Kanner Architects A rendering of the now-complete A+D Architecture and Design Museum > Los Angeles.

how did this new, permanent space come about?

Stephen Kanner (SK): Tibbie found a new space across from the L.A. County Museum of Art. It was remodeled with the help of many contractors, who gave over $300,000 worth of services.

Tibbie Dunbar (TD): In the fall of 2008 we started a campaign to raise seed money. We reached out to the architecture and design communities of L.A. It was an amazing effort on their part because the economy was just about to fall forward. But they said yes. Our 20/20 Foundation Group, an L.A.-based group of 20 architects and 20 designers, made it possible for us to sign the lease. The build out team was phenomenal. Ninety percent of the build out was donated by building companies in L.A. Over 1,000 people attended the opening.

what is the museum’s purpose?

SK: The key to the museum, the mission, is to bring to the public exposure to progressive architecture and design. Our goal is to have two architecture exhibits and two design exhibits per year. [We’re interested in] auto design, product design, clothing design, landscape design. There is a lot of interest by the 20/20 group and others to expose these types of design. The museum is kind of a rare bird. I can’t think of too many architecture and design museums that exist.

why was it so important to obtain a permanent home for the museum?

TD: Now we know where we’re going to be for the next five years. We’re talking to other institutions about working together. We have our 2010 exhibit schedule in place and are working on 2011. We could never have done that before. It’s a huge shift. 

what is the new space like?

SK: It was built in the 1940s and has a Streamline Moderne quality to it. There are two galleries of 1,000 and 3,000 square feet, and the rest is about 1,000 square feet. Eames Demetrios [a member of the 20/20 Foundation Group] came up with a great idea. Part of the approval process was that the project had to have a retail component. Eames’ idea was to have popup stores. The idea is to go to the most progressive retailers in L.A. and have them outfit our kiosk for [a few] months at a time. It means we’re going to have a lot more openings.