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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures


  • Location: Los Angeles, USA
  • Completion: 2020
  • Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop  |
  • Executive Architect: Gensler |
  • Construction company: Josef Gartner |
  • Glass laminator: Saint-Gobain |
  • Engineering firm: knippershelbig  |
  • Featured product: Saflex® Structural PVB interlayers
  • Photo credit: ©Patrick W. Price and © Academy of Motion Pictures

Designed by Renzo Piano

Rooftop terrace made for stargazing
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, California

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is as unique as the industry it represents. And because one part of the brand-new museum—thesphere—has a glass rooftop dome, it required the superior structural capacity found in Saflex® Structural (DG41) PVB interlayers instead of standard PVB interlayers.

In a town where glamour and glitz are practically a requirement, the giant glass sphere sparkles appropriately. The museum gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look into how films are made while celebrating the power of the movies. Hollywood superstars Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks helped spearhead the project. And its designer, “starchitect” Renzo Piano, is as well known as many of the actors celebrated inside the museum.

Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy, the Academy Museum is housed in the historic May Company Building (now called the Saban Building) in Los Angeles. Glass bridges lead to the glass dome, designed for viewing the stars—both the Hollywood and celestial varieties. Located in the lower half of the sphere is the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater. The all-glass top half of the sphere resides over a rooftop terrace with jaw-dropping views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills.

The dome design required careful attention to material selection and design detail and lasted several years. Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineeringdesigned a unique “shingle” system to accommodate the complex geometry and high load requirements of the dome.

The glass rooftop dome consists of a single-layered, braced steel structure covered in shingled glass panels—two panes per grid. They were manufactured with Saflex Structural (DG41) PVB interlayers and installed by Permasteelisa North America. While the inner glass pane is supported by an invisible, custom dead-load pin connection, the outer glass pane is supported by the interlayer—making a stiff interlayer essential. Due to Saflex Structural’s strength and rigidity, the engineers found that it met both requirements.

Since the glass edges are exposed to varying weather conditions, Saflex Structural helps protect against delamination, preserving the dome’s beautiful appearance. It can also be combined with other Saflex PVB interlayers without any negative visual impact, which also contributes to the dome’s clarity. Low-iron glass without a coating created the final effect.

Because Los Angeles is earthquake prone, the dome’s superstructure is supported by base isolators, which allow the structure to move by up to onemeter during the swaying and racking that occurs in a seismic event.

With the collaboration of some of the best architectural and engineering minds from both Europe and America, the motion picture industry will be celebrated for years to come.

Categories: Vorhangfassade , Dachfenster und Überkopfverglasungen , Structural