French architect to design H'wood's Oscars museum


French architect Christian de Portzamparc has been named to design the world's largest and most ambitious museum dedicated to the history of film and the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Thursday.

Sid Ganis, the president of the group that annually hands out film's most prestigious awards, the Oscars, says he hopes to see ground broken on the eight-acre (3.24-hectare) site in the heart of Hollywood in 2009 and have the museum completed by 2012.

But there are a few problems readily admitted by Ganis and de Portzamparc: the museum still has to be designed and a budget still has to be arranged.

Ganis called the Thursday announcement a major step forward to give Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, its first major film museum. The museum will face north toward the city's iconic HOLLYWOOD sign.

Ganis said that it was important for the Academy "to select a firm with a track record of true collaboration with clients and fiscal responsibility, as well as impressive design work."

De Portzamparc, who in 1994 was awarded architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, designed the Cite de la Musique and Cafe Beaubourg, both in Paris, and the French Embassy in Berlin. In the United States, he has been lauded for his design of the LVMH Tower (Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton headquarters) in New York City.

"I have a true passion for cinema and often link this art to architecture: the art of motion, art of light, editing, sequencing of the time and the life, celebration of the living," said de Portzamparc. "The Academy Museum will play a unique role in transporting visitors into the universe of movies," he said.

Ganis sad he saw the museum becoming a major tourist attraction in Los Angeles, which has seen some notable buildings built in recent decades, including the Getty Center and Disney Hall to house the Los Angeles Philharmonic.