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Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum reopened to the public on December 7, 2015. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the new exterior wraps the museum with ribbons of stainless steel that evoke motion, speed and the lines of a bespoke automobile. At night, the color and steel forms will be lit with LEDs from within to accentuate the sculptural facade of the building.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-02-Zahner-759x505 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© Zahner

The project included a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior, resulting in a world class museum that showcases the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-05-flickr-Michael-Locke-759x353 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© flickr-Michael Locke

Design Features:

  • The reflective steel ribbon façade was designed by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox and pays homage to the body and curves of vintage automobiles.
  • The designer’s concept was envisioned as a curvilinear facade which floats around its perimeter and rooftop event space. The ZEPPS® Process was used to manufacture this complex facade.
  • The facade is composed of 308 ribbons made using the ZEPPS® Process by Zahner. Each of the ribbons is manufactured using an aluminum substructure, and then clad in stainless steel and painted aluminum.
  • The exterior features a stainless-steel ribbon assembly, made of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 sections, 25 supports and 140,000 custom stainless-steel screws.
  • The eye-catching red and steel exterior will be lit from within, which serves as a nod to the 80’s trend of putting neon colored lights on a car’s undercarriage.
Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-06-Zahner-759x395 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© Zahner


Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-08-flickr-Michael-Locke-759x508 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© flickr-Michael Locke

The renovated interior include 22 new galleries totaling over 100,000-square-feet and boasts interactive technology, including racing simulators. The museum is home to many famous cars, including the 1992 Batmobile from ‘Batman Returns’, 1966 Ford Thunderbird used in ‘Thelma & Louise’ and the Ferrari 309 GTS Targa used by Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I. One of the new featured galleries will showcase a revolving selection of BMW’s Art Cars, designed by world-renowned artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-09-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-associates-759x504 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© Kohn Pedersen Fox associates


Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-11-David-Zaitz-759x506 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© David Zaitz


Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-15-David-Zaitz-759x506 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© David Zaitz

The Petersen Automotive Museum project consists of three phases of renovation of the existing four-story building and parking structure. The first phase, completed in May 2014, is a tenant improvement providing new administrative offices on the basement level. In the second phase, the exterior facade of the museum is undergoing a significant design remodel slated for completion in December 2015. The third phase, currently under design, will consist of a porte-cochere remodel, parking structure screen facade on Fairfax, a new custom-sized freight elevator for moving the collection throughout the museum, and interior gallery improvements.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-render-01-759x489 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

render 01 – © Kohn Pedersen Fox associates


Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-render-02-759x426 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

render 02 – © Kohn Pedersen Fox associates

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates:

The transformed Petersen Museum creates a renewed image for the museum capturing the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile, and becomes a worthy neighbor for the buildings of Museum Row, on Los Angeles’ famed Miracle Mile.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-21-Zahner-759x506 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© Zahner

Inspired by the form of a car, KPF’s design creates a new “body” around the existing “chassis” of the museum. The rooftop is converted into a party space that can be rented out. A corrugated aluminium rain screen outboard wraps the building, while “ribbons” of angel hair stainless steel and red painted aluminium flow around the building, manoeuvring the existing entry vestibule and other apertures.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-22-Zahner-759x506 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© Zahner

Sitting atop the existing structural system like the body of a car mounted to its frame, the steel “ribbons” evoke a sense of speed and movement and are brushed to avoid creation of glare. The design offers a contemporary interpretation of the mid-century, space age “Googie” architectural style that characterizes Los Angeles. The result is one of the most significant and unforgettable structures in Los Angeles.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-construction-process-01-Zahner-759x911 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

construction process – © Zahner


Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-construction-process-10-Zahner-759x506 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

construction process – © Zahner

About: Museum

Founded on June 11, 1994 by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen, and his wife Margie, the Petersen Automotive Museum is owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation. Previously located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the museum is permanently housed in a historic department store originally designed by Welton Becket. The building opened in 1962 as a short-lived U.S. branch of Seibu Department Stores, before operating as an Ohrbach’s department store from 1965 to 1986. Six years after Ohrbach’s closed, Robert Petersen selected the largely windowless site as an ideal space for a museum, where artifacts could be displayed without harmful exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of direct sunlight.

Petersen-Automotive-Museum-By-Kohn-Pedersen-Fox-Associates-31-flickr-Michael-Locke-759x438 Petersen Automotive Museum / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

© flickr-Michael Locke

Project Data:

Project name: Petersen Automotive Museum
Location: 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90036, United States
Coordinates: 34.062042, -118.361287
Type: Museum
Project Area: 1,900 sqm / 20,000 sp.ft
Project Period: September 2014 to December 2015
Status: Built
Cost: $125 million
Completion Year: 2015
Opening Date: December 7, 2015
Visit Petersen Automotive Museum’s website: here

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Petersen Automotive Museum
Architects: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates – 11 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036, United States
Fabricator: A. Zahner Company
Text Description: © Courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Zahner
Images: © Petersen Automotive Museum, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Zahner, David Zaitz, Chang Kim, flickr-Michael Locke

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