Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
© Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Honor the past while creating a building for the future

Renzo Piano Building Workshop as Architects

When it opens in the heart of Los Angeles, at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be the world’s premier movie museum.

Situated on the famed “Miracle Mile,” the museum will preserve and breathe new life into the former 1939 May Company department store, now re-named the Saban Building. Celebrating its history and imagining new possibilities, the additions to the building that date from 1946 have been removed and replaced with a spherical building that features the 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.

“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.”

- Renzo Piano


“The Academy Museum will be a hub for film lovers where people from across the city and around the world can enjoy, learn, and engage with movies and moviemakers. For more than 120 years, cinema has been central to global culture and the way we perceive, question, and, at times, escape the world around us. We want to give visitors a place to explore and discuss the impact of film. We hope to transport visitors to a cinematic environment, somewhere between reality and illusion. Like watching a movie, visitors will enter a waking dream—one in which they go inside the movies to experience their magic, as well as the art and science that makes that magic possible.”

- Kerry Brougher, Academy Museum Director

The glass rooftop dome

Saflex as Manufacturers

The dome design required careful attention to material selection and design detail and lasted several years. Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineeringdesigned a unique “shingle” system to accommodate the complex geometry and high load requirements of the dome.

The glass rooftop dome consists of a single-layered, braced steel structure covered in shingled glass panels—two panes per grid. They were manufactured with Saflex Structural (DG41) PVB interlayers and installed by Permasteelisa North America. While the inner glass pane is supported by an invisible, custom dead-load pin connection, the outer glass pane is supported by the interlayer—making a stiff interlayer essential. Due to Saflex Structural’s strength and rigidity, the engineers found that it met both requirements.

Since the glass edges are exposed to varying weather conditions, Saflex Structural helps protect against delamination, preserving the dome’s beautiful appearance. It can also be combined with other Saflex PVB interlayers without any negative visual impact, which also contributes to the dome’s clarity. Low-iron glass without a coating created the final effect.

Because Los Angeles is earthquake prone, the dome’s superstructure is supported by base isolators, which allow the structure to move by up to onemeter during the swaying and racking that occurs in a seismic event.

With the collaboration of some of the best architectural and engineering minds from both Europe and America, the motion picture industry will be celebrated for years to come.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is as unique as the industry it represents. And because one part of the brand-new museum—thesphere—has a glass rooftop dome, it required the superior structural capacity found in Saflex® Structural (DG41) PVB interlayers instead of standard PVB interlayers.

In a town where glamour and glitz are practically a requirement, the giant glass sphere sparkles appropriately. The museum gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look into how films are made while celebrating the power of the movies. Hollywood superstars Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks helped spearhead the project. And its designer, “starchitect” Renzo Piano, is as well known as many of the actors celebrated inside the museum.

Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy, the Academy Museum is housed in the historic May Company Building (now called the Saban Building) in Los Angeles. Glass bridges lead to the glass dome, designed for viewing the stars—both the Hollywood and celestial varieties. Located in the lower half of the sphere is the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater. The all-glass top half of the sphere resides over a rooftop terrace with jaw-dropping views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills.

World’s premier institution devoted to exploring the art and science of movies

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as Client

Opening announcement

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the 93rd Oscars® ceremony will move to Sunday, April 25, 2021, as a result of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The show, which will air live on ABC, was originally scheduled for February 28, 2021.  Coinciding with the Oscars celebration, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, initially scheduled to open to the public on December 14, 2020, will now open on April 30, 2021, also as a result of the health crisis.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be the world’s premier institution
devoted to exploring the art and science of movies and moviemaking. Visitors to
the museum will experience the magic of cinema and the creative, collaborative
process of filmmaking through the lens of those who make it. Built in Los Angeles,
the movie capital of the world, the museum will be housed in the renovated and
expanded May Company—now the Saban Building—on Wilshire Boulevard and a
distinctive spherical addition designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo
Piano with Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The 300,000-square-foot museum will
feature more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space for both a highly
immersive permanent exhibition and a schedule of diverse temporary exhibitions,
two film and performance theaters, a state-of-the-art education studio, and
dynamic spaces for public and special events.

The Academy Museum has actively been acquiring three-dimensional motionpicture objects since 2008. Its holdings now number approximately 2,500 items
representing motion picture technology, costume design, production design,
makeup and hairstyling, and promotional materials. The museum will also draw
from the unparalleled collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences, which contains a vast range of motion picture production and historyrelated objects and technology, works on paper, and still and moving images
covering the history of motion pictures in the United States and throughout the
world. The collections include more than 12 million photographs; 190,000 film and
video assets; 80,000 screenplays; 61,000 posters; and 104,000 pieces of
production art. Highlights feature more than 1,600 special collections of film
legends such as Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, and John

1939 The May Company on Wilshire Boulevard opens designed by Albert
C. Martin and Samuel A. Marx
1992 The Streamline Moderne façade is designated a City of Los Angeles
Historic-Cultural Monument (#566)
May 2012 Renzo Piano Building Workshop selected as architect for new
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Oct. 2012 Initial design is unveiled
Oct. 2015 Construction begins
2019 Estimated completion of construction

Total project: 300,000 square feet
Saban Building (formerly May Company): 250,000 square feet
Sphere Building: 45,000 square feet

The 300,000-square-foot Academy Museum will feature six stories of dynamic
spaces, including more than 50,000 square feet of immersive permanent and
temporary exhibition galleries, an education studio, two state-of-the-art theaters, as well as dynamic public and special event spaces that include a spectacular roof
top terrace with sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills.

The new 1,000-seat Geffen Theater located in the sphere will become a center for
all visitors and feature daily screenings, major film events including previews,
openings and special presentations with the world’s leading filmmakers. A more
intimate 288-seat theater will offer screenings ranging from Saturday morning
matinees for children of all ages to a global cinema series. Both theaters will be
home to an array of live performances, lectures, panels, and other events that will
bring the most notable film artists of today to Los Angeles. Theaters will be
equipped to present film with multidimensional sound experiences and superior
screen quality.

Saban Building: concrete; steel; steel-reinforced concrete; glass; gold leaf mosaic
tile from the original manufacturer, Orsini, of Venice, Italy will be used to restore
the iconic cylinder; limestone from Austin, Texas will be used to restore the
historic building façade. 

Concrete, precast, steel; steel-reinforced concrete; and specialty glass for its dome to be fabricated in Steyr, Austria by St Gobain.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop with contribution to concept design by Studio Pali Fekete architects.

Product Spec Sheet

Product Spec Sheet
by Saflex
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