Magnificent Metal Monday

Architect Renzo Piano’s orb-shaped, glass-domed theater building, which with a transformed May Co. building will form the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

“And the Oscar goes to” … if you tuned into last night’s award’s ceremony, you may have seen Tom Hanks giving a preview of the $388-million dollar Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, scheduled to open in December 2020. Designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architect Renzo Piano with Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Gensler, the new museum will be situated on the famed “Miracle Mile,” and will preserve and breathe new life into the former 1939 May Company department store, now re-named the Saban Building.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be the world’s premier institution devoted to exploring the art and science of movies and moviemaking. The historic Saban Building will be paired with a soaring new spherical addition to the north, with views of the Hollywood Hills. The buildings’s design has been inspired by the mission of the museum itself—to turn the dream factory inside out and give visitors an unprecedented opportunity to peer behind the screen and into the creative, collaborative world of moviemaking through the lens of those who can make them.

The museum will feature a 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the Dolby Family Terrace with views towards Hollywood. The revitalized campus will feature more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space, two theaters, cutting-edge project spaces, an outdoor piazza, the rooftop terrace, an active education studio, a restaurant, and store.

Photo Credit: Dezeen

According to an article in MATT Construction, “It will keep the original character of the former department store’s Wilshire façade, sourcing new limestone from outside of Austin, Texas, where the original stone was quarried. In addition, it will rehabilitate the black granite, gold tile and bronze doors. The north façade of the Saban Building will be entirely replaced by a glass curtain wall. This will shift the focus of the building to project north to a new 42,300 sf, base-isolated, six-and-a-half story, glass and concrete spherical structure. The bottom semi-sphere will be poured concrete with precast cladding. The top half is glass. Extensive supports and birdcage scaffolding will hold the structure in place until the final piece of glass can lock it together like the keystone of an arch. Renzo Piano’s signature spider stairways with finely detailed railings and treads will climb the outside of the orb.”

Pedestrian bridge from the Saban building, which is the historic May Company building, leading to the Sphere building of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Renzo Piano said, “The Academy Museum gives us the opportunity to honor the past while creating a building for the future—in fact, for the possibility of many futures. The historic Saban Building is a wonderful example of Streamline Moderne style, which preserves the way people envisioned the future in 1939. The new structure, the Sphere Building, is a form that seems to lift off the ground into the perpetual, imaginary voyage through space and time that is moviegoing. By connecting these two experiences we create something that is itself like a movie. You go from sequence to sequence, from the exhibition galleries to the film theater and the terrace, with everything blending into one experience.”

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