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Academy Museum Enters New Phase, With Design Intact

The Academy Museum is moving along at a normal pace, says Bill Kramer, reassuring Acad observers that “the design concepts remain the same” as before.

Reached in Italy, Kramer, managing director of the Academy Museum project, addressed some of the misperceptions that have been reported in the media. The massive project, involving the redesign of the May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax, is leaving the “design development” stage and entering the “construction documents” phase.

This means that in the next few weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will be announcing the hiring of a firm that specializes in matters like building codes and construction documents. So the groundbreaking this year and the 2017 opening are still on track.

On April 15, the Los Angeles Times ran architectural sketches that Kramer described as “high-concept renderings of the project.” In other words, like a rendering of a costume or set design, these sketches overdramatized certain aspects and are intended to show the placement and scale of things, but are not intended to be a literal depiction.

The design will essentially remain the same, with the walkways and David Geffen Theatre, but the striking sphere will be “lighter” in appearance, said Kramer.

On Monday, the Academy issued a statement saying it will be hiring an executive architectural firm and that 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 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 Italian design company headed by Piano will remain onboard.

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.

Kerry Brougher, whose hiring as artistic director has been confirmed by Academy officials but has never been announced, is scheduled to start in the next few months.

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