The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Renzo Piano Building Workshop
ARCHITECT OF RECORD
THEATER ACOUSTICS / AV
Knipper Helbig GmbH
Images: © ALEX NYE
A major renovation project including the addition of a spherical 1000 seat theatre. In-depth analysis on the theatre indicated that an unusual base-isolation system was needed. During an earthquake, base-isolators allow movement of up to 75cm in any direction. The original 1930’s building was also retrofitted and designed to limit movement. The theatre was designed by architect Renzo Piano.
Submitted in 2020
The connection of a spherical theatre to an existing building, in a highly seismic location, presented significant engineering challenges.
The theatre is supported by four mega-columns and is seismically isolated from the ground. The unique design employs just eight base-isolators set 5 metres above grade and visually exposed as a design feature. The supports are located near the centre of gravity of the theatre, leading to potential uplift difficulties.
To address the seismic challenges, the base-isolators allow the spherical structure to move up to 750mm in any direction during an earthquake. In contrast, the retrofitting of the existing 1930 building is designed to limit movement to a minimum. Because the buildings are designed to move so differently during an earthquake, the linking elements between the two structures—including circulation bridges and stairs—required flexible connections to allow one building to move and the other to stand still. The bridges are connected with pivot and bearing connections that provide vertical and horizontal restraint, yet still allow rotation.
This project demonstrates an innovative resolution of seismic challenges in order to connect the two contrasting structures together safely.