At a very swanky press event yesterday at the old Venice Post Office, producer Joel Silver (Die Hard, The Matrix, Lethal Weapon) showed off his plans to renovate the 1939 WPA-built building and turn it into the home of Silver Pictures (The company will relocate from Burbank and Silver noted how much more life Venice has--"kind of urine-soaked life," but still.). First, let's get the gossip out of the way: the guests included Tobey Maguire, former Yahoo! head Terry Semel, Gjelina chef Travis Lett, and Mayor Villaraigosa, and we have never seen such fancy centerpieces at a press event. Silver knows how to do it up. But on to the building: the post office is getting rid of scores of buildings it can't afford to keep operating, and Silver pleased the neighborhood by deciding earlier this year to buy and restore the Venice Post Office, designed by Louis Simon. The government will hold onto the deed for the building's lovely "Story of Venice" mural by Edward Biberman, but Silver will restore it and make it available to the public for viewing (possibly by appointment).
The renovated post office will house offices, editorial suites, and a screening room with about 50 seats. Local architect Bret Thoeny of Boto Design Architects will handle the architecture; Judith Lance is the interior designer; Mia Lehrer is handling landscape architecture; and Nathan Zakheim will oversee the mural restoration. According to press materials, Thoeny will "see that the facade and windows are completely restored. The grand staircase at its entrance will be returned to its former splendor. The lobby will be reconstructed, the ceilings rebuilt to match their opulence form when the Post Office first opened." Outdoors, there'll be a living wall, a permeable parking lot, and a courtyard with a water feature outside of Silver's office.
Silver intends to hold a lecture series and other public programming in the space; he said that Silver Pictures films will get a special Venice premiere between studio premiere and release date.
Work has already started on renovations and will take about a year and a half; the mural has been getting a good scrubbing for the past month or so and will eventually be removed for restoration before being replaced in its original home.
· Superproducer Joel Silver Buying, Saving Venice Post Office [Curbed LA]