Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Project Cover
Ph.: © Alex Nye

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Los Angeles, CA | USA
Business Area
Permasteelisa, Gartner
ARCHITECTRenzo Piano Building Workshop, architects
Ph.: © Alex Nye
The Concept

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is located on one of the major east-west axes in Los Angeles, at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, an area also known as Miracle Mile. The Academy Museum accommodates around 30,000 sqm (322,900 sq ft) of exhibition spaces, theaters, dining, retail, education, conservation and public spaces. The Academy Museum consists of two buildings: the fully renovated historic May Company building - now renamed the Saban Building - which dates back to 1939 and a new spherical building which is connected to the north side of the historic building via three largely transparent bridges built by Gartner. The Sphere Building features the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater with a 9 x 20 m (30 x 66 ft) screen, which will be a venue for screenings, performances and programs.

The Sphere Building is covered by a steel-glass dome which has been manufactured and installed by Gartner. It is open on the north and south sides. Right below the filigree steel and glass dome, the Dolby Family Terrace offers stunning views of the LA skyline and the Hollywood Hills. In the lower area, the steel structure rests on the concrete structure. It consists of circular hollow sections with a diameter of 100 mm (3 15/16”) spanning the dome’s diameter of 45 m (148 ft). The whole structure is reinforced with 10 mm (24/64”) ropes running crosswise over the steel structure. A secondary steel construction consisting of 60 mm (2 23/64”) wide T-profiles serves as a two-sided glass support, the glass panes which are mounted on two sides overlap at the top and bottom. For an optimal transparency, only low-iron glass without coating has been used. Sun protection units have been attached directly to the steel construction using adjustable brackets. Openable units in the upper part of the dome allow for natural ventilation of the terrace. The frame units blend in well into the roof design. Light and sun protection units have been tested and selected on the basis of a mock-up.


The two parts of the building are connected by filigree steel-glass bridges. The bridges consist of glass roofs and parapet glazing. One of the bridges additionally features a glass floor; total glazing amounts to 360 sqm (3,900 sq ft). Two levels of catwalks in the area of the glass supports allow access for maintenance purposes. On the roof, access is provided via a maintenance staircase with an elevated steel construction.

The Project
Scope of Work

Design & engineering, manufacture and installation of the steel and glass dome and glass bridges for an overall area of 3,100 sqm (33,400 sq ft). 

Technical Details

OWNER: Academy Museum of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

ARCHITECT: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects in collaboration with Gensler


FAÇADE ENGINEER: Knippers Helbig (dome) and BuroHappold (bridges)

More Information

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