LA’s car museum shifts up a gear with redesign

Kohn Pedersen Fox works its magic over the facade of iconic 1960s Welton Becket building
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Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox
Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox

How do you get repeat visits to your venue? Restaurants tweak their decor and menu, shops rotate and update their stock, and museums and galleries host temporary exhibitions. Deep-pocketed institutions meanwhile, turn to the Big Architectural Statement.

With its planned 15,000sq ft of new display space, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is hoping to achieve this. But as an extra draw for museum-weary visitors, it's also giving the façade a bit of a makeover.

The attraction, which turns 20 next year, has brought in international outfit Kohn Pedersen Fox to liven up the cutting-edge 1960s building originally designed by Welton Becket, whose mid-20th-century buildings (including the famous 'record changer' Capitol Records Building), are strewn across LA.

 

Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox
Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox

Soon, this corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard will be a mass of gleaming metal which, at night, will be embedded with twinkling LEDs.

“Long ribbons of stainless steel will wrap around three sides and over the top of the deep red building, making a visceral statement that evokes the imagery of speed and the organic curves of a coach-built automobile,” according to the museum.

“People say to themselves, ‘There’s no reason to go to the Petersen – I’ve already been there,’” says museum chairman Peter Mullin. He hopes that these significant changes will turn repeat visits into 60% of the daily attendance. 

 

Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox
Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles - Kohn Pedersen Fox

If you're interested in how museums have changed to suit the shifting tastes of their public over the years you'll find plenty of interesting examples in our books 20th Century World Architecture and the Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. We've also just released The Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App for iPhone, iPad and iTouch which features 1500 worldwide projects from 840 practices. 


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