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Peter Zumthor, Architect Behind Controversial LACMA Building, Gets a Documentary by Wim Wenders

Despite his expansion for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art having come under fire from critics and local activists, architect Peter Zumthor will get the documentary treatment from a master filmmaker. Wim Wenders, whose filmography includes acclaimed works such as Wings of Desire (1987), Paris, Texas (1984), Pina (2011), and more, is at work on a documentary about Zumthor, according to the German-language publication Monopol.

Because theaters around the world are currently facing uncertainty over when they might reopen or, in some cases, remain open, a release date has not yet been set. Yet Wenders said he plans for the film to have a theatrical release, as opposed to a digital one. “His work means a lot to me,” he told Monopol, speaking of Zumthor.

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Zumthor is regarded as one of the world’s top architects, and was named the winner of the $100,000 Pritzker Prize in 2009. Within the art world, he is well-known for his collaborations with artists and museums. At Dia:Beacon in Upstate New York, for example, he designed a room to house a Walter De Maria installation, and with Louise Bourgeois, he created a memorial to the witch trials of the 17th century in Vardø, Norway.

The Swiss architect is now at work on two major projects: a renovation for LACMA and an expansion for the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland. The LACMA expansion has generated a significant amount of controversy, with detractors alleging that the $750 million price tag for it is too high and that Zumthor’s design for it disregards the museum’s history. His building, though, has received unwavering support from the museum’s trustees, local politicians, and foundations.

Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times’s art critic, who has been among the most vocal detractors, wrote in 2019, “Architecture cannot compensate for lost context. Beautiful light won’t do it, nor rooms with atmosphere. Detailed craftsmanship won’t either.”

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