Saban Building

The Saban Building, formerly the May Company Building, on Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, is a celebrated example of Streamline Moderne architecture. The building's architect Albert C. Martin, Sr., also designed the Million Dollar Theater and Los Angeles City Hall. The May Company Building is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.[2] The building was operated as a May Company department store from 1939 until the store's closure in 1992, when May merged with J. W. Robinson's to form Robinsons-May. The building has been the home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures since 2021.

Saban Building
The May Company Building 2021.jpg
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures' Saban Building in 2021
Former names
  • May Company Wilshire Building
  • LACMA West
General information
Architectural styleStreamline Moderne
Address6067 Wilshire Blvd.
Town or cityLos Angeles, CA 90036
Coordinates34°03′48″N 118°21′40″W / 34.0633°N 118.3610°W / 34.0633; -118.3610
Named forCheryl and Haim Saban
Construction started1938
Opened1939; 84 years ago (1939)
Renovation cost$368 million
OwnerAcademy Museum of Motion Pictures
Technical details
MaterialConcrete and steel
Floor count6
Design and construction
Architect(s)Albert C. Martin, Sr.
Renovating team
Architect(s)Renzo Piano
Other information
Public transit accessLAMetroLogo.svg Bus interchange 20 Bus interchange 780 D Line  Wilshire/Fairfax (expect 2023)
Saban Building is located in Western Los Angeles
Saban Building
Location in Western Los Angeles
Built forMay Company
Original useDepartment store
Rebuilt2020 (expected)
ArchitectAlbert C. Martin, Sr.
Architectural style(s)Streamline Moderne
DesignatedSeptember 30, 1992[1]
Reference no.566[1]

The Los Angeles Conservancy calls it "the grandest example of Streamline Moderne remaining in Los Angeles". It is especially noted for its gold-tiled cylindrical section that faces the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue, of which it occupies the northeast corner.[3]


May CompanyEdit

The May Company Building, completed in 1939, is a landmark Streamline Moderne structure.[4] It was deemed a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1992.[4]

LACMA WestEdit

May Company Wilshire Building as shown in the early 2000s as the LACMA West

After being vacant for two years, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) acquired the building in 1994 and used it—under the name "LACMA West"—as exhibition space.[5][6] In 2014, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures agreed to a 55-year lease with LACMA to include the May Company Building, as well as the adjacent land to build the David Geffen Theater.[7]

Academy Museum of Motion PicturesEdit

The May Company Building was renamed in recognition of philanthropist Cheryl Saban and entertainment executive Haim Saban's $50 million donation to the museum in 2017.[8] The Saban Building has served as the main building of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures since 2021.[9]

In 2012,[10] the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson asked Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano to design the 300,000-square-foot campus consisting of the former May Company Building and a spherical addition attached by three glass bridges.[11]

 The museum's design plan called for the renovation of the original structure, which included a full restoration of the exterior—most notably its cylindrical façade.[12] The cylinder comprises more than 350,000 glass and gold leaf mosaic tiles. While the restoration project, led by preservation specialist John Fidler, aimed to preserve as many of the original tiles as possible, those that had to be replaced were sourced from Orsoni, their original manufacturer in Venice, Italy.[12] The majority of the Saban Building is covered in Texas limestone panels which had started to deteriorate. Fidler used an English technique called helifix anchor that allowed them to cut away at the spoiled and broken stone and remove the corroding metal fundamentally restoring the exterior of the building.[13]

Renzo Piano was also commissioned to design the building's new spherical addition.[14][11] The 130-foot-tall sphere building is home to the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and is topped by the glass-domed Dolby Family Terrace which offers guests a panoramic view of the city and the Hollywood sign.[15]

Appearances in popular cultureEdit

The building was featured in Visiting... with Huell Howser Episode 702.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Designated Historic-Cultural Monuments". Department of City Planning. City of Los Angeles. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission (July 1994). Historic-Cultural Monuments. City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.
  3. ^ "May Company Wilshire". Los Angeles Conservancy.
  4. ^ a b Nichols, Chris (April 6, 2018). "The Academy Museum Is Restoring This 1939 Mid-Wilshire Landmark Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  5. ^ "Overview". Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
  6. ^ "May Co. Building to Reopen as LACMA West". Los Angeles Times. October 22, 1998.
  7. ^ Boehm, Mike (June 2, 2014). "Film academy to pay LACMA $36.1 million for movie museum lease". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Malkin, Marc (December 5, 2018). "Why Haim and Cheryl Saban's $50 Million Donation to Academy Museum Almost Didn't Happen". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Baldwin, Eric (February 17, 2020). "Academy of Motion Pictures to Open this December in Los Angeles". ArchDaily. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Rathe, Adam (June 14, 2020). "The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Might Be the Most Exciting Development in This Year's Oscars Race". Town & Country. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Academy Museum of Motion Pictures". Architect Magazine. October 16, 2017. Retrieved June 7, 2021.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ a b Cramer, Alex (December 5, 2018). "Tom Hanks Helps Unveil Academy Museum's Newly Restored Building". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  13. ^ Gee, Kristopher. "AMPAS Restored Classic LA Building for New Museum". Spectrum News. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Roe, Mike (February 10, 2020). "The Academy Museum's Giant Sphere Only Looks Like A Galactic Superweapon (There's A Movie Theater Inside!)". LAist. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  15. ^ Chandler, Jenna (September 28, 2017). "Film academy releases new renderings of its museum on the Miracle Mile". Curbed LA. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "May Company- Visiting (702) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University".

External linksEdit