At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Hammer Museum found itself at a crossroads:  the contemporary art center, housed in a building by Edward Larabee Barnes, suffered from anonymity both in its local environment and within the cultural context of Los Angeles.  The existing building was characterized by its blank, seemingly impervious facades and multiple entryways that disoriented visitors.  The building is also located at unique point in the city; one located at the edge of the University of California, Los Angeles campus and a high profile business district to the south.


MMA worked with the Museum to develop a comprehensive Master Plan that outlined a strategic approach to updating the existing facilities, adding necessary program areas including a theater, cafe, bookstore, and public classrooms, and providing a new visibility and vitality for the Museum as a whole.

Taking advantage of the museum’s urban location, the design transformed the formerly vacant central courtyard into a vibrant hub for the museum, connecting routes throughout the museum and out into the campus and the city beyond. This strategy begins at the lowest parking level, creating an open, multivalent set of routes and connections throughout the courtyard, across the suspended bridge, and eventually to the museum’s upper levels to views of the surrounding streets and the sky.  Translucent and transparent elements organize these circulation routes while highlighting the active life of the building and the museum’s diverse programming.

In the years since the completion of the Master Plan, MMA has continued to collaborate with the Museum and completed a number of planned projects including the 300-seat Billy Wilder Theater, the John V. Tunney Pedestrian Bridge, a updated restaurant/cafe, outdoor courtyard improvements, and and education lab.