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 will restore important historical features of the original 1939 May Company building, which was recently named the Saban Building. 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 building interior will be 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 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.

The sphere will house a 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art theater. On top of the theater, the terrace space will feature radiant heating and cooling and allow guests to look out over Park La Brea to the Hollywood Hills.

Pedestrian bridges will connect the Saban Building and the sphere at the mezzanine and fifth levels. An additional service bridge will be located on the second floor. The museum is scheduled to open in 2019.

Rendering credit: ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/Images ©A.M.P.A.S./Images from L'Autre Image (images 1, 2, 14, 16), ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/Images ©A.M.P.A.S. (images 3-6)
Photo credit: Gary Leonard (aerials 15, 17), ©A.M.P.A.S. (image 18), Nathaniel Riley (images 7-13)