Academy's Plan for Giant Oscar on Its Movie Museum Facade Proving Controversial

Courtesy of Renzo Piano Building Workshop

A several-story-tall award statuette might be emblazoned on the face of L.A.'s historic former May Co. store, to the skepticism of local preservationists

This story first appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

When the Academy released the latest plans for its proposed film museum on Aug. 28, it brought new attention to a previously floated idea to emblazon a giant award statuette on the face of the gold "perfume bottle"-shaped corner of the former May Co. store it's leasing from LACMA along the Miracle Mile.

The idea is to outline Oscar's shape while not obscuring the Streamline Moderne building from view and not permanently altering the historic structure. But the change would be dramatic, particularly at night, when the form is illuminated.

Says Ken Bernstein, manager of the city's Office of Historic Resources: "The devil is in the details; we may have further comment on the size and execution. It could have adverse public perception of the perfume bottle, which has been a significant view for decades. We don't want it to become a background element."

Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy at the L.A. Conservancy, agrees. "One of the building's primary features is its silhouette," he says, "and if it's interrupted in a dominant way, it becomes subservient."

Notes Bill Kramer, the Academy museum's managing director: "We haven't decided if we are going to do it. We wouldn't want to overwhelm the architectural integrity of the building. That's extremely important."