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Los Angeles County Museum of Art Cafe

The renovation of the Plaza Café at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) exemplifies the convergence of architecture and branding and the crux of designing to the satisfaction of larger institutional needs. As LACMA underwent a larger renovation to its museum buildings and campus, it also revamped its logo in an effort to embolden a greater branding campaign. The Plaza Café design is an architectural response sensitive to an institution’s ambitions and strict budget limitations.

Located in an area of the museum which is subject to heavy foot-traffic, the Plaza Café reinforces the LACMA trade dress to numerous passersby through the use of a vibrant red color drawn from the newly introduced logo. The key design feature is an undulating grid of 198 suspended red light bulbs which reduce the scale of the space to a more intimate level and provide a playful response to the natural tones of the surrounding material environment. The furniture specified along with the painted soffits and columns emphasize the LACMA red even further. New furniture, carpeting, casework and menus signs completed the café’s transformation.

Rather than mere infill, the design for the Plaza Café reinforces a greater branding mission for the institution within which it is located. The reciprocity engendered through this sensitive approach to design is, in a subtle way, a reflection of the role which architecture may assume with regard to civic and contextual righteousness.

Status: 2008
Project Type: Restaurant
Building Type: Tenant Improvement
Size: 3,000 sf
Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Principal: Hagy Belzberg
Project Manager: Chris Arntzen
Project Team: Chris Arntzen