Another bubble has popped for Richard Koshalek.
The director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., a branch of the Smithsonian, announced Thursday he will leave his post later this year. The news followed a reported split on the Hirshhorn board over the wisdom of building an inflatable event space for the museum, a project Koshalek has actively championed.
The inflatable structure, designed by the New York architects Diller, Scofidio & Renfro and known as "the Bubble," had estimated costs of roughly $15 million. With Koshalek on the way out, its fate is unclear.
This is hardly the first time that Koshalek's passionate interest in architecture has brought him attention. At nearly every stop in his career architectural ambition has helped define his tenure or led to his exit -- or both.
At L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, where he spent 16 years as director in the 1980s and 1990s, Koshalek helped oversee construction of the museum’s Grand Avenue headquarters, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, and a warehouse conversion in Little Tokyo by Frank Gehry now known as the Geffen Contemporary. Koshalek was also a key advocate for Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.
At Art Center College of Design, the Pasadena school Koshalek headed from 1999 to 2009, he spearheaded construction of a new South campus, a former wind tunnel converted superbly into classrooms and exhibition space by the L.A. firm Daly Genik. Koshalek also proposed designs for Art Center by Gehry and the Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, leading to criticism that he was neglecting educational programs in favor of high-profile building projects.
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