A new museum celebrating the Korean American heritage is set to start construction next year in Los Angeles’ Koreatown.
Scheduled to be built by early 2022, the Korean American National Museum will be situated on the corner of Vermont and Sixth Street, a property currently being utilized by the Department of Transportation as a 57-space parking lot.
It was announced during a news conference on Wednesday that $4 million in state funding has been secured for the creation of the first-of-its-kind museum. The funding was made possible through the efforts of LA politicians such as Assemblyman Miguel Santiago and state senators Holly Mitchell and Maria Elena Durazo, LAist reports.
“A lot of first-generation Koreans who came over [to the U.S.] in the late ’60s and ’70s are now in their eighties,” the project’s Executive director Shinae Yoon was quoted as saying. “We wanted to build something that was a legacy institution, not just for the people who came over but for future generations.”
So far the museum’s organizers have generated $15 million in funding, out of the $32 million needed to complete the project.
According to Yoon, part of the budget will be used to purchase the land from the city after the 10-year lease is up with a plan to expand the museum by converting some of the underground parking.
During the announcement, Los Angeles-based Morphosis Architects also unveiled the building’s architectural models and renderings that depict a spacious, 17,000-square-foot structure. Based on the images revealed, the building’s overall design combines elements of traditional Korean architecture with modern features.
The museum will feature a two-story building surrounding a traditional Korean Hanok, an open courtyard. The building’s exterior will have a patterned façade that also features a traditional Korean motif. While the top will include a terrace and sculptural roof garden featuring plants native in California and other species common in Korea.
“We thought about bringing over a piece of Korea, so to speak, a symbolic piece of Korea into L.A. and planting it with a primarily Korean landscape. But in the spirit of the Korean-American combination and in the spirit of the diaspora, and so actually also mix it with local plants in the idea that we’re both mixing Korea and LA,” said Eui-Sung Yi
, the project’s principal planner/partner at Morphosis.
Morphosis noted that their concept for the museum is “a lifted, displaced landscape — a piece of Korea grafted onto Los Angeles — containing the museum within,” which was based on Korean American architect Eulho Suh’s idea of “displaced memory.”
Once built, the museum will be among other institutions in LA dedicated to chronicling the experience of Asian Americans, including the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo and the Chinese American Museum downtown.