Academy chooses architects for its movie museum project at LACMA


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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has picked Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali as the architects charged with transforming the old May Co. building at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue into the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

The Italian-born Piano, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1998, is behind the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Central St. Giles Court in London, and the headquarters of the New York Times. Piano also designed the expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which he began working on in 2003.


The building that will house the film museum sits next to, and is owned by, LACMA.

Pali, a Los Angeles native, has been responsible for the restorations of Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, the Gibson Amphitheatre and the Pantages Theatre. He worked on the renovation and expansion of the Getty Villa museum and is designing the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, which will open in fall 2013.

‘Renzo’s track record of creating iconic cultural landmarks combined with Zoltan’s success in transforming historically significant buildings is a perfect marriage for a museum that celebrates the history and future of the movies,’ said Dawn Hudson, the academy’s chief executive.

[Updated 11:54 a.m., May 30: Hudson, in a conference call with the duo, said the organization chose them because ‘we actually responded to and fell in love with both architects.’ The architects spoke from Genoa, Italy, where they are already working on plans for the L.A. site.

Pali and Piano have never worked together but have known each other for a long time. ‘Obviously, Renzo is a hero for me,’ Pali said. ‘It’s an incredible honor to team up with his team.’

Both men intend to work closely together on the project’s interior design. ‘The idea is that we don’t divide the work,’ Piano said. ‘Creativity has no limit, no boundaries.’

Hudson added that she and the museum committee, which includes some academy governors, current President Tom Sherak and former President Sid Ganis, still need to hire a firm to design the specific exhibits.


The academy is currently in the ‘silent phase’ of its fundraising. It plans to open the museum in late 2015, early 2016.]


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-- Nicole Sperling and Susan King