The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is hiring an executive architectural firm for its film museum, saying there is “nothing unexpected or untoward” about the exit of Zoltan Pali, whose firm SPF:a was hired by the Academy in 2012 to assist legendary architect Renzo Piano with the execution and completion of the design.
“As is customary with projects of this nature as they move closer to a final design, we are engaging an executive architecture firm to realize the vision created by the primary architects,” the Academy said in a statement. “This being the case, Pali will now be stepping back from the project.”
The statement continued: “Moving forward, the executive architectural design firm will be responsible for creating the detailed construction drawings as the project prepares for groundbreaking.”
The Acad is finalizing details with the firm so has declined to name it yet.
While the kerfuffle raises questions about the next steps for the $300 million project, the Acad says it will stick to the original timetable, which calls for groundbreaking late this year and a 2017 launch.
Italian design company headed by Piano will remain onboard, and sources said the exit of Pali and his Culver City-based firm were a result of creative differences and a tussle for power with Piano.
The museum has been a high priority for AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson since her arrival in 2011; her contract was just renewed on May 6.
Pali’s exit is not expected to affect the arrival of Kerry Brougher, whose hiring has been confirmed by Academy officials but has never been announced. Brougher can begin work as artistic director. However, the direction Brougher takes will depend greatly on the facility’s designs.
This is the latest in a series of hurdles for the project. The 2008 recession put a freeze on plans, and the buying of property in central Hollywood for the museum was filled with headaches. But fundraising was successful, and the project got a shot of adrenaline from the linkup with LACMA to convert the space at the old May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax.
Los Angeles Times architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne got a look at architectural renderings and plans, and wrote a devastating piece April 15, saying Acad officials should be prepared to find themselves with a “flop.”