Academy Museum of Motion Pictures


Los Angeles, CA


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Design Architect

Renzo Piano Building Workshop



The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a new cultural destination designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, located in the historic, Streamline Moderne building at Wilshire and Fairfax, next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

The project restored important historical features of the original 1939 May Company building, which was renamed the Saban Building. It kept 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, MATT rehabilitated the black granite, gold tile and bronze doors.

The building interior was retrofit to accommodate museum uses. It will contain a mixture of galleries, temporary exhibition spaces, event venues, a retail space, a restaurant and café, and a 288-seat underground theater. The museum’s lower level will also include significant spaces dedicated to education and conservation.

The north façade of the Saban Building was entirely replaced by a glass curtain wall. This shifts the focus of the building to project north to the new 42,300 sf, base-isolated, six-and-a-half story, glass and concrete spherical structure that houses the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater.

The bottom semi-sphere is 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 climb the outside of the orb.

On top of the theater, the Dolby Family Terrace space features radiant heating and cooling and allow guests to look out over Park La Brea to the Hollywood Hills.

Pedestrian bridges connect the Saban Building and the sphere at the mezzanine and fifth levels. An additional service bridge is located on the second floor. The museum is scheduled to open April 2021.