Facade systems beyond the expected

A Museum for Thinking Broadly

Modern art is supposed to challenge us. It encourages people to think as broadly as possible. 

So, it’s fitting that the architecture of The Broad in Los Angeles – a futuristic, 120,000-square foot contemporary art museum – is designed to open minds. Its launch in late 2015 struck a chord with the press. Wall Street Journal saw “A Building of Bravado,” while the Guardian teased, “Supersized cheese grater hits LA.”  The New Yorker added to the party, gushing about The Broad’s “surrealistically curved walls and ceiling… the umbilical-like stairwell… the facade is a slewed honeycomb of concrete modules: slit-like holes … which suggest the tidy claw marks of a very large cat.” 

All laughs aside, the building is spectacular, and highlights the magic that can occur when creative minds are enabled by innovative products. The Broad has a Sika Sarnafil® Roof System with Sarnatherm® insulation as well as widespread use of Sikaflex® 1a sealant, Sikadur® epoxy, and SikaTop® mortar. 

The Broad museum in Los Angeles
Image: The Broad museum in Los Angeles
The exterior of The Broad museum in Los Angeles
Image: The exterior of The Broad museum in Los Angeles

Veil and Vault

Renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Diller) – whose work includes MOMA, Columbia Business School, Juilliard, and Lincoln Center – were behind the project. 

Achieving such an avant-garde and yet sustainable design was not easy, and stretching limits architecturally required the right ingredients. Sika provided Diller with a full range of solutions that maximized their functional and esthetic possibilities, including tile adhesives and grouts, systems for under-tile waterproofing and sound reduction, decorative finishes, and facade thermal insulation systems.

The innovative “veil-and-vault” concept for the museum yields a central vault that contains all the artwork. The vault plays a key role in the museum experience, and it is enveloped on all sides by the “veil,” an airy, honeycomb-like structure that stretches across the gallery and provides lots of natural daylight. Visitors leave via a central staircase through the vault that gives a peek into the vast collection, mastering the interplay between opacity and transparency.

Sustainability Award

Alongside its innovative design, the Broad is also trailblazing when it comes to sustainability. Sika’s innovative facade mortar makes the museum’s facade resilient against harsh weather, thereby ensuring its longevity. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded The Broad a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for LEED New Construction in 2016, recognizing the building’s energy-saving features and sustainable practices. These include electric car charging stations, a sunny top floor gallery which lowers energy bills, and high-efficiency plumbing.  

Removing Limitations

Funded by billionaire philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, the museum houses their foundation’s library, which has loaned works to other museums since 1984. This library – the Broad collection – hosts 2,000 works of art, which is among the most prominent holdings of contemporary art worldwide. 

Their goal in building the museum – which is free to all visitors – was to make contemporary art more accessible. “Artists have a view of what the world’s really about, socially and otherwise,” Eli told Bloomberg in 2015. Modern art is supposed to be ahead of the curve – giving us what’s oddball, different, or genius, but often not understood because it doesn’t always make sense right away. Indeed, modern art sometimes doesn’t look like art at all, but instead sends a powerful message about the human condition. 

Ultimately, The Broad is the ideal place to remove the perception of limitations on what’s possible. It succeeds as the perfect merger of form and function, a building whose outside is just as thought-provoking and inspirational for visitors as what’s on the inside.

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