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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures by Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano completes Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles

Italian architect Renzo Piano has completed the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, adding a concrete and glass sphere to a 1930s building.

Images revealed by the studio show the exterior and interior of the moviemaking museum, which will open 30 September 2021.

Renzio Piano completes movie museum
A spherical extension abuts the art deco building

The Academy Museum occupies the Saban Building, formerly the May Company Building, which was built on the intersection of Wilshire and Fairfax in 1939.

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Piano's studio Renzo Piano Building Workshop renovated the building and added the Sphere – a domed structure housing screening theatres topped by a terrace sheltered under a curving glass roof.

Glass dome of Acadamy Museum Sphere
A glass dome tops the terrace of the Sphere

The museum will be dedicated to the art and science of filmmaking. It is owned and operated by the Motion Picture Academy, the organisation behind the annual Oscars awards ceremony.

The renovated Saban Building and the Sphere will encompass 50,000-square-feet (4,600 square metres) of exhibition space, two theatres, a shop, a restaurant and an education studio named after Shirley Temple.

Underside of Sphere extension by Renzo Piano
The base of the Sphere is made of steel and concrete

Piano created the spherical extension out of steel and concrete, overlaid with 1,500 glass shingles cut into 146 different shapes and sizes by fabricators in Austria.

The glazed pieces form a transparent dome over the terrace, which has views out over the Hollywood Hills.

Exterior of 1939 Saban Building in LA
The facade of the Saban Building has been restored

Extensive restoration has also been undertaken on the Saban Building, which was built in the art deco Streamline Moderne style.

Its distinctive golden cylinder on the northwest corner has been given a facelift, with one-third of the 350,000 gold leaf mosaic tiles replaced by the original Italian manufacturer.

The exterior of the existing building has been restored with limestone from Austin, Texas.

Glass bridges connecting the Saban Building and the Sphere
Glass bridges connect the Saban Building and the Shere

Two glass and steel bridges connecting the Saban Building and the Sphere were named after actress Barbra Streisand and entertainment executive Casey Wasserman respectively.

Photographs of the interior of the Sphere show the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, named after the founder of Asylum Records and film studio DreamWorks, decorated all in red.

David Geffen Theater in Academy Museum
The David Geffen Theater. Photo by Iwan Baan

The 288 seats of the Ted Mann Theater, named for the late film producer, are upholstered in a vivid green.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop first unveiled the project in 2012. After a handful of funding delays followed by the coronavirus pandemic, the museum will open later this year.

Ted Mann Theater in Academy Museum
The Ted Mann Theater. Photo by Iwan Baan

The Academy Museum will host a number of virtual events in the run-up to 30 September, including a conversation with the director Spike Lee and virtual film screenings.

Plans for the September opening include an exhibition and screenings dedicated to the work of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Recent projects by Renzo Piano Building Workshop include a replacement bridge for Genoa and a condo tower in Miami.

Photography is by Josh White / JWPictures unless otherwise stated.

More images and plans

Plans for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures