Work is set to start in the fourth quarter this year on converting LACMA's old, underused May Company building into the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali will adaptively reuse the 1939 building (which sits on the southwestern edge of LACMA's campus, at Wilshire and Fairfax) and a huge glass sphere to its back end, connected by a "five-story glass 'spine'" with "people-moving system of stairs and elevators," as the Academy describes it in an update (pdf) that also includes juicy new renderings and floorplans. While it'll be cool to see Dorothy's ruby slippers and everything, it seems like the museum—with three movie theaters—will also become an important place to see films that might not get play anywhere else (even in this town).
This museum will be packed and it covers six levels, so let's break it down floor by floor:
The May Company's ground level will host a Museum Piazza on the northern end to connect to the LACMA campus on one side and the museum's lobby—with a cafe and store—on the other. There will also be access from the groundfloor to the top of the two-story Making Of… gallery, dedicated to explaining how exactly movies are made, and the Demonstration Stage (for technical demonstrations and master classes), which can be configured as either a 100-seat theater or "an open soundstage-like environment for more hands-on activities." Those two will also extend down to and connect with each other on a sub-level. The Making Of… will also connect to a double height Touring Exhibition Gallery for traveling shows and special exhibitions.
Then up to the mezzanine level, which will take visitors via "Majestic Red Carpet Stairs" to a big, glass-walled Premiere Theater Lobby that can serve as gallery, meeting, or special event space. This is also where people will access the glass bubble's Premiere Theater, which will have 1,000 seats and host programming year-round, including "premieres of films from an international roster of established and emerging directors, Academy screenings, major retrospectives, in-depth symposia, and high-profile special events."
The second floor will hold the "vast permanent exhibition devoted to the history of the movies" in a modular layout that can be updated and rearranged easily, plus a second Touring Exhibition Gallery. In the middle of it all there'll be a 141-seat theater for screenings tied to the museum's exhibits, as well as "Academy film series and retrospectives, independent and experimental movies, and foreign language films." This floor will also have a Green Room for artists and VIPs.
The third floor will be the Academy Museum Education Center, home of the Academy's existing Media Literacy Program for K-12 students, which teaches students, more or less, how to read movies on both creative and technical levels (who knew?).
And just when we thought the Academy was dedicated to interesting work … the fourth floor will host a permanent exhibition all about their yearly public relations spectacle (it'll be called the History of the Academy and the Academy Awards). Visitors will be able to walk the red carpet! Learn about the history of the Oscars! Accept their own Oscar! There'll also be a 141-seat theater on this floor showing movies related to the Awards, plus an Academy Museum Founders Room for Academy Governors and "generous donors" to the museum, also useful for private dinners and cocktail parties attended by not you.
Now finally to the roof and its huge terrace with big wide views. It's also include a 1,000-seat Rooftop Special Event Dining Room and Garden for indoor/outdoor events.
With spaces set, specific design elements (materials, lighting, etc.) will be decided on by the second quarter this year. Work will start at the end of 2014 and the museum is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2017.