morphosis architects plans korean american national museum in LA

morphosis architects — the firm founded and led by pritzker laureate thom mayne — has revealed the new design for the ‘korean american national museum’. to be located in LA’s koreatown district, on the southwest corner of 6th street and vermont avenue, the two-story building has been conceived as ‘a lifted, displaced landscape — a piece of korea grafted onto los angeles — containing the museum within.’ the building will be crowned with a terrace and sculptural roof garden featuring plants native to the korean landscape, including maple, pine, and bamboo.

all images courtesy of morphosis architects



beneath the roof garden, morphosis’ design follows the courtyard plan of historic korean residences, circling a central open space with a fluid, interconnected ring of galleries, meeting rooms, and offices. the museum’s street presence is defined by greenery and a patterned façade featuring a traditional korean motif. the building will also incorporate below-ground parking for the general public and museum visitors, with capacity equal to the city-owned parking facility currently occupying the site.



the project establishes a permanent home for the museum, which was founded in 1991 as the first institution devoted to preserving, studying, and presenting the korean american community’s cultural heritage. over the past three decades, the korean american national museum has partnered with other museums, universities, and cultural centers around los angeles to produce exhibitions and events exploring the korean american experience.



discussions of creating a permanent home for the institution began in 2000; over the past few years, plans have solidified as the museum board has worked with city council and community members to select a site and develop a program in line with their mission. the location — at the heart of the city’s koreatown district — was chosen for its significance to past and future korean americans. the new building contributes greenery, public space, and cultural programming to this fast-developing urban community, as a dedicated platform for events, lectures, performances, and exhibitions.



morphosis architects is designing the project, led by a team of predominately korean and korean american architects and designers under the direction of morphosis founder thom mayne and eui-sung yi, a partner at the firm and project principal for the korean american national museum. ‘this museum honors the sacrifices and hardships of our parents and grandparents while showcasing the fruits of those sacrifices: the accomplishments of future generations. we aimed to reflect this sentiment in our design,’ eui-sung yi says.



jae min chang, board vice chair for the korean american national museum, adds: ‘we are thrilled to be working with morphosis architects in creating this landmark museum. this building will stand as a vital institution for the millions of korean americans who have made this country their home, and will beautifully represent the strength and accomplishments of our community.’ the museum is scheduled to break ground in 2020, with projected completion in 2022.




project info:


name: korean american national museum
location: los angeles, CA
architect: morphosis architects
status: scheduled to break ground in 2020, completion planned for 2022

philip stevens I designboom

aug 07, 2019

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