Kodak Theater comes into focus for Acad

Architect Rockwell describes his creation as 'mythological'

Aside from its new execs, the Academy is getting ready for another big change — its move to the Hollywood-based Kodak Theater, which will hold the 2002 Academy Awards.

Part of the $650 million Hollywood and Highland complex, the $95 million Kodak, which is on schedule to open its doors in November, is just one block from the Roosevelt Hotel that housed the first Oscar ceremony in 1929.

While the theater is still months from completion, a recent hard-hat tour showed the Kodak’s aesthetic as dramatically different from the Shrine Auditorium or the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with a look that architect David Rockwell described as “mythological.”

Attendees at the 2002 Academy Awards will walk past a 70-foot glass curtain and through a series of arches. Red marble mosaic risers will be placed along the pathway. Glass-beaded wall panels ring the theater lobby; when lighted the iridescent glass looks similar to a silver screen.

Boxed in

The theater proper has the intimate feeling of a European opera house. Twenty-four boxes flank the multi-tiered space, which is capped with a giant silver-leafed tiara.

In his planning, Rockwell, whose mother was a choreographer and vaudeville dancer who toured with Abbot and Costello, was mindful of design elements needed to accommodate live TV broadcasts, creating a media cockpit on a special lift in the center of the orchestra seating that can be lowered and raised. The theater also boasts a winner’s walk — a private hallway from the stage that leads directly to a press room.

Rockwell, whose other projects include Radio City’s Carnivale Spectacular and the set design for “The Rocky Horror Show” on Broadway, said that he hopes the Kodak will not only serve the Academy, but also as a venue to revive theater in Los Angeles.

The Kodak will house a December run for the American Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker” and a spring 2002 staging of Broadway hit “The Full Monty.”

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