Ohhh Over a Local Landmark's Golden Update

Following years of restoration, the Saban Building and its shimmery cylinder, both part of the upcoming Academy Museum, received a star-studded unveiling.

What to Know

  • Academy Museum
  • Wilshire and Fairfax
  • Opening in late 2019

If you're an architecture aficionado, and you adore the numerous landmarks found around Los Angeles, then you surely know that, quite often, a landmark structure can boast a feature that's almost as famous as the structure itself.

Take the clock towers of the Original Farmers Market, or the Bradbury Building's vintage elevator, or the massive golden cylinder that's shimmered at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue for several decades.

The Streamline Moderne building it has long been a part of, the former May Company, now stands as the Saban Building. The building is part of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures campus, which is due to debut in late 2019.

But first?

A massive build projection, and simultaneous restoration, has been afoot at the corner, including a full-scale effort to bring back the golden cylinder, to its impressive, eye-catching glory, in addition to restoring the building's beautiful façade.

The restoration is completed, and the grand unveiling occurred on Tuesday evening, Dec. 4.

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Several stars in attendance, including Tom Hanks, who spoke at the event, and Diane Keaton, who has long been active with the LA Conservancy, and the saving of LA's architectural history.

Cheryl and Haim Saban, the building's namesakes, were also in attendance, along with Kerry Brougher, director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

So how shimmery is the giant cylinder, which Mr. Brougher compared to stack of film canisters, following its massive restoration?

That's for the beholder to decide, but here are a few interesting tidbits behind the project, which came together thanks to the efforts of John Fidler Preservation Technology Inc., Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and the Los Angeles Conservancy.

Bringing the cylinder back to gleam-tastic life involved "... the individual replacement or repair of 350,000 24-karat gold glass mosaic tiles."

And the replacement tiles? Here's a Hollywood ending to that element of the story: "New tiles were sourced from the same manufacturer as used on the original 1939 building, from Orsini, in Venice, Italy." 

The rest of the building, beyond the cylinder section, also was treated to extensive work, with the façade being "restored in place," thanks to "... the development and engineering of an anchoring system by Fidler's team."

There are some 35,000 square feet of Cordova limestone panels covering the historic structure.

It's a momentous moment for LA's preservation story, and one that will get even starrier near the close of 2019, when the Academy Museum opens to the public.

Including, of course, that intriguing new sphere, which will include a cinema and deck, currently rising to the north of the Saban Building.

By the by, this wasn't the only major Academy Museum news of early December; the museum revealed some of its early exhibits in a Dec. 4 announcement, including a Hayao Miyazaki retrospective.

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