Future film museum will be steps away from future Westside Subway station

A rendering of a possible subway portal at Wilshire/Fairfx, across the street from the site of the proposed film museum.

A rendering of a possible subway portal at Wilshire/Fairfax, across the street from the site of the proposed film museum.

The news this week that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) are teaming up to create a museum devoted to motion pictures is long, long overdue. Finally the birthplace of the film industry will have a proper and permanent venue where locals and tourists can go to learn more about the industry that put L.A. on the map.

The news should be especially exciting to Source readers because the proposed location for the new museum is in the old May Company building that LACMA owns on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax – which just happens to be the site of the future Westside Subway Extension station at Wilshire/Fairfax.

Rendering of the Wilshire/Western station at the ground level of the May Company building.

Rendering of the Wilshire/Fairfax station at the ground level of the May Company building.

Imagine that: a major cultural attraction built next to mass transit. Unlike, for example, the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium or the Getty. This is the kind of thing that makes it look like the Los Angeles area actually knows what it’s doing when it comes to urban planning!

While we all wait for the Westside Subway Extension’s environmental report to be released this fall, documents on the subway extension page give a glimpse into the possibilities for the Wilshire/Fairfax station. Here’s a direct link to the Wilshire/Fairfax presentation.

At this point, the plan is for Metro to fund and build one entrance to the Wilshire/Fairfax station. Three locations for the entrance are under consideration: 1) an entrance inside the May Company building; 2) the northwest corner of Wilshire & Fairfax adjacent to the historic Johnie’s building, and; 3) the south side of Wilshire between Ogden and Orange Grove, one block east of Fairfax.

Most people participating in the Station Area Advisory Group for this station said they preferred to have an entrance on the east side of Fairfax to better serve the arts and cultural institutions already there, with the LACMA/May Company entrance being their first choice.

Easy transfers and accessibility to other transit modes is one of the factors that planners consider when evaluating station entrance locations. The Johnie’s site and the LACMA/May Company site both win here for anyone who would be traveling north or south on Fairfax; the Farmer’s Market and the Grove are about .6 miles north on Fairfax.

When it comes to selecting a station entrance, other factors are cost and ease of construction. Metro has noted that it’s always easier and less expensive to build a station entrance on a site that you are already using for construction staging.  That works against the LACMA location, since that building isn’t going anywhere. (You can read more about subway construction here).

As for the process, Metro subway planners will recommend a station entrance location as part of the final environmental document and the final decision — as per usual — will be up to the Metro Board of Directors. Even if a LACMA entrance isn’t chosen, the museum could still have one. All the stations are being planned to allow for additional entrances if more funding becomes available, either from the government or the private sector.

It’s worth pointing out here that LACMA was the single largest donor to the campaign for the Measure R sales tax increase in 2008 that is partially funding the Westside Subway Extension. The reason: the museum knew that heavy traffic in the Miracle Mile area was keeping potential visitors away. The subway extension will make access to LACMA, the Miracle Mile and much of the Westside far easier — which is a true victory for everyone in the region.