The Pavilion for Japanese Art is a part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art containing the museum's collection of Japanese works that date from approximately 3000 B.C. through the 20th century.
Designed by Bruce Goff, the 32,100-square-foot building is notable for its translucent fiberglass panels, which allow paintings to be lit safely and naturally by soft sunlight. The effect approximates the original viewing conditions for these paintings and allows gold leaf to reflect, creating dimensional levels within works of art not visible under artificial lighting. Japanese screens can be viewed at a distance, while scrolls can be viewed closer in alcove-like settings that suggest the tokonoma viewing area in a Japanese home. The pavilion also features a prow-shaped roof and cylindrical towers.
The Pavilion is divided into two volumes, each with a sweeping prow-like roof some have compared to a Shinto temple, an ancient samurai helmet, or even a building in Disney's Tomorrowland. The buildings have irregular, curving plans that resemble lotus or gingko leaves from above and are grounded with bases of gray-green stucco and stone. Atop each roof is an unusual structure of supporting cables and tusk-like objects that seem to allude to the mastodon fossils found in the tar pits next door. The cables are actually connected to six massive columns that rise through the interior and hold the roof up; this is another nod to traditional Japanese architecture, in which exterior walls are non-load bearing.
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