AMPAS museum gets French twist

Academy announces Portzamparc design

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will announce today that French architectural firm Atelier Christian de Portzamparc will design its massive museum project.

AMPAS hopes to break ground in 2009 on its Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, adjacent to its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study at Fountain Avenue and Vine Street in Hollywood. Plans call for a nearly eight-acre campus, targeted at a 2012 opening.

Fund-raising will begin next year. No fund-raising goal has been announced.

De Portzamparc told Daily Variety that he is looking forward to the chance to change Hollywood’s status as the movie industry’s gritty factory floor.

“For the world, Hollywood is a name, is a legend, and people are coming for this legend, people who are passionate about movies will be coming, and there will be a place to discover more about movies and about their history,” he enthused.

“The area and the neighborhood will change, and this is a chance to create a landmark in what Hollywood will be,” he added.

The org wants a museum that does more than display artifacts from film history, said Acad prexy Sid Ganis.

“You’ll be immersed in what you’re seeing. We hope to surround you with film, the history of film and the way film is created — and also the scope and breadth of the Academy — in a way that is more dimensional than passing by and looking at it from a distance,” Ganis explained.

De Portzamparc said, “The intention is to make a very alive place, which is attractive because there is always something happening there and something interesting to discover.”

In other words, they want more than old movie costumes and scripts.

Ganis said the campus “undoubtedly” will include a “good-sized theater,” adding, “I don’t think we’ll be designing it to move the Oscars there.” Nor does Ganis expect any building there to replace the org’s HQ on Wilshire.

De Portzamparc, 63, was approved by the Acad board based on recommendations from a museum subcommittee consisting of Charles Bernstein, Arthur Cohen, Ganis, Arthur Hamilton, Curtis Hanson, Kathleen Kennedy, Jeannine Oppewall, Frank Pierson, Robert Rehme and Steven Spielberg.

De Portzamparc, recipient of the 1994 Pritzker Prize, has been hailed for his designs for the Cite de la Musique in Paris and the LVMH Tower in Gotham.

De Portzamparc’s designs are noted for his bold designs and sensitivity to their surroundings.

The committee interviewed many architects and traveled around the world to review their buildings on site.

“De Portzamparc took our breath away more than once,” said Ganis. “His buildings that were purely functional were exciting, and his buildings that were more than functional — an expression of French culture, like the French Embassy in Berlin — were magnificent.”

The architect, for his part, said that he has been influenced by movies throughout his life and work.

“Architecture is an art of discovery, an art of emotion, an art of framing and an art of light,” he said. “All these arts are so connected to moviemaking.”

Gallagher & Associates had previously been hired to design the exhibitions, and E. Verner Johnson & Associates is the master planner of the museum campus.

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