Petersen Automotive Museum
Los Angeles       

Owner Petersen Automotive Museum
Lead Designer Kohn Pedersen Fox
Executive Architect House & Robertson Architects Inc.
Contractor MATT Construction
Structural Engineer Saiful Bouquet
MEP Engineer CCRD
Ribbon Engineering & Fabrication A. Zahner
Parking Parkitects Inc.

Last December, auto enthusiasts saw the made-over Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles for the first time after a $125-million renovation made the once-boxy building as striking as the hot rods and vintage cars it houses.

“This is the most difficult design we’ve ever done,” says Anthony Birchler, vice president for engineering and sales at steel fabricator A. Zahner. With 3D modeling and design software, Birchler’s team fabricated 310 uniquely shaped panels to create the rippling design.

The building was originally an Ohrbach’s department store, but the Petersen Foundation wanted to sever those roots with razor-sharp architecture, says Birchler.

Now it’s difficult to drive by the museum without noticing the exterior skin that’s inspired by the streams of smoke flowing over a car’s grill and hood during wind-tunnel tests.

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