International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has shared its design for the new Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The museum will mark its 20th anniversary in 2014 by commencing a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior, resulting in a bold museum that will showcase the art, experience, culture, and heritage of the automobile. Work on the museum is expected to take 14 to 16 months and to be completed in early 2015.
Opportunely located on ‘Museum Row’ of the famed ‘Miracle Mile’, the building started out as a department store in 1962. Unlike most museum renovations, which involve complete building teardown, this is a repositioning project. By keeping the bones but removing the existing concrete portico on Wilshire and installing a corrugated aluminium rain screen outboard of the current facade on each of the three street frontages, the museum will have a whole new look and feel.
New ‘ribbons’ made out of angel hair stainless steel on the front and top and red painted aluminium on the back and bottom, flow over and wrap the building. Acting as beams that support their own weight, these evoke the feeling of speed and movement, sitting atop the existing structural system much like the body of a car mounts to its frame. At night, the colour and forms will be lit from within to accentuate the steel sculpture and act as a beacon on The Miracle Mile.
According to KPF co-founder and Chairman A. Eugene Kohn, the new design was ‘intended to express constant motion, suggesting speed, aerodynamics and the movement of air. While its other museum neighbours are the gentlemen in black tie, this is a ballerina’.
KPF Design Principal Trent Tesch adds: “The Petersen Museum is a rich cultural deposit of the most interesting and compelling automobiles in the world. Housed in a converted department store, the museum finds itself without a deserving image. While the ‘bones’ of the building work well for the display of cars, the expression of the structure lacks imagination. Our goal was to find a way to inject life into the building, with minimal intervention that would produce the maximum effect. The design offers an abstract veil of flowing ribbons, meant to invoke not only the spirit of the automobile, but also the spirit of Los Angeles architectural culture."