Like many couples, Eli and Edythe Broad finish one another’s sentences, love to travel and appreciate nothing more than a quiet evening in. And that’s where the similarities end. Together for more than 60 years, Eli and Edythe share a love of art, a belief in the healing possibilities of science, and philanthropic hearts. And the results of their generosity have made an enormous impact on the cultural environment of downtown L.A.
Unlike most other couples, when the Broads travel, they visit the likes of the (now-deceased) Maharaja of Jaipur in his Indian palace. ‘Home’ is a two-story, 13,000-square-foot Brentwood behemoth designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry; the three-acre estate is dotted with works by Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly. Their home away from home is The Broad, the $140 million free-for-all (general admission), 120,000 square-foot, downtown contemporary art museum that officially opened late last year. What the couple wanted, admits Eli, was something different. “Most museums are not welcoming frankly—they’re sort of dark and so on. We wanted something that would attract people who never go to museums.”
The Broad, which is located across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, is magnificent. It’s a modern affair with a perforated, honeycomb-like façade by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Built based on “the veil and the vault” concept: a porous envelope wraps around the building, filtering and transmitting daylight to the inside space, while its exterior is comprised of 2,500 rhomboidal panels made of fiberglass reinforced concrete supported by a 650-ton steel substructure. The vault is the building’s core, storing artwork, curatorial spaces and offices. Ajacent is a plaza, filled with 100-year-old Barouni olive trees, lending the building a modern yet timeless ambiance.