Tom Wiscombe Completes Schematic Design of DTLA Museum

SCI-Arc design faculty Tom Wiscombe has recently completed his schematic design for the Old Bank District Museum (OBDM), commissioned by SCI-Arc trustee Tom Gilmore. Wiscombe, who heads the LA-based practice Tom Wiscombe Architecture, presented his designs to members of the LA development and arts community in late February.

The OBDM is a contemporary art and design museum located in the heart of the Old Bank District of Downtown Los Angeles. The project is part adaptive reuse and part new construction, capitalizing on the tension between historical and contemporary architecture.

Located beneath, inside of, and on top of the Farmer’s & Merchant’s Bank, the Hellman Building, and the Bankhouse Garage at 4th and Main Street, the Museum is a three dimensional space that weaves through these buildings, inhabiting their hidden or forgotten spaces. It is an unorthodox museum form, in the sense that it withdraws from iconicity and creates a world within a world.

The main 45,000 SF. exhibition space is located in basement and sub-basement spaces that include turn-of-the-century bank vaults that become part of the ensemble. Unlike generalizing forms of coherence we have become familiar with in this late period of digital architecture, such as smoothness and continuity, this project is based on a new, non-literal form of coherence produced by the uniqueness of specific objects and the vicarious relations between them.