Petersen Automotive Museum Announces Exterior Redesign

August 26 2013

The famous Petersen Automotive Museum announces an exterior redesign by Kohn Pedersen Fox, reports Rob Sass in The New York Times "Wheels" Blog.

The article includes a quote by KPF chairman and co-founder Gene Kohn, who describes how the new design is "intended to express motion or rather constant motion, suggesting speed, aerodynamics and the movement of air. While its other museum neighbors are the gentlemen in black tie, this is a dancer."

Unlike most museum renovations, which involve complete building teardown, this is a repositioning project. The existing building is like a chassis without a body. By keeping the bones, but removing the existing concrete portico on Wilshire, and installing a corrugated aluminum rain screen outboard of the current facade on each of the three street frontages, the museum will have a whole new look and feel. New “ribbons” made out of angel hair stainless steel on the front and top, and red painted aluminum on the back and bottom, flow over and wrap the building.

In the words of KPF Design Principal Trent Tesch, “The Petersen Museum is a rich cultural deposit of the most interesting and compelling automobiles in the world. Housed in a converted department store, the museum finds itself without a deserving image. While the ‘bones’ of the building work well for the display of cars, the expression of the structure lacks imagination. Our goal was to find a way to inject life into the building, with minimal intervention that would produce the maximum effect. The design offers an abstract veil of flowing ribbons, meant to invoke not only the spirit of the automobile, but also the spirit of Los Angeles architectural culture."

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