As we reported last week, Zoltan Pali and Renzo Piano were tagged to design the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new film museum inside LA’s former May Company Building. We recently caught up with Culver City-based Pali, principal of SPF:a, to discuss the project. It’s still early, so he couldn’t give many details, but he did share some Twitter-sized kernels about his approach and his upcoming collaboration.
AN: What is the scope of work? Can you talk about what will be inside the new museum?
Zoltan Pali: The scope of work is to create a place where the highest aspirations of film are learned, exposed, discussed and enjoyed. It will require the use of the entire May Company building.
Have you talked about your design strategies yet? Where are we in the design process? Can you reveal any of the thinking at this point? Some highlights?
We are at the very beginning, the goal is to create magic, wonderment, and poetry.
What are some of the biggest challenges about working inside the May Company? And will you be preserving much of the interior? I assume the exterior will remain basically the same? But how will you renovate it?
We are going to respect all the historic qualities and fabric of the building. The interior will be transformed. The challenges are very technical, such as structural issues, mechanical issues, circulation, and egress.
Obviously there are so many artifacts and so much history to deal with. Can you discuss this challenge as well?
The challenge will more than likely be the editing process, because there is so much!
Is there a challenge to fitting in with the rest of the LACMA campus? How do you plan to approach that issue?
It is Renzo’s and my goal to fuse the May Company building to the campus–it is one of the purposes of our collaboration. But, we must also create something new and magical.
You and Renzo are obviously two very experienced designers. Have the roles for each of you been defined yet? How do you anticipate working that out?
It is a full collaboration in every aspect. We work together very well. I love working with Renzo.
You’ve become a major architect in Los Angeles, but do you think this commission will solidify your place internationally?
I don’t think about those things, right now the pressure is on to do a beautiful project for my home town of Los Angeles, the Academy and for LACMA.
What have you learned from the Getty Villa and other museum projects that you think will be helpful for this project?
We learn from every project and we hope that each time we get better and better, more clever and more skillful. The client is the most important thing, because a building is sort of a portrait of the client and it is our job to paint that portrait in the best way.
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