Petersen Automotive Museum Unveils Eye-Catching New Exterior by Kohn Pedersen Fox

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has announced that it will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2014 with a redesign of its interior and a complete transformation of its exterior facade to create a "world class museum that will showcase the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile." The exterior design by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates will give the Petersen a truly unique and iconic look that will hopefully attract architecture and car enthusiasts alike.

More on the museum's drastic transformation after the break.

"For two decades [the Petersen] has charmed visitors with its fantastic collection and its focus on education and entertainment," says Peter Mullin, Petersen's Chairman of the Board. "Our plan is to work with the best and brightest minds in architecture, automotive history and interactive design to give the people of Los Angeles and the world a place where they can be immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of the greatest vehicles ever built."

But the truth is that today the Petersen is having trouble getting visitors to come back a second time. “People say to themselves, 'There's no reason to go to the Petersen - I've already been there,'” Mullin said. He hopes that a serious refurbishment of the museum and an updating of its exhibits will make repeat visits up to 60% of daily attendance.

Courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum

For the eye-catching exterior, the Petersen and KPF, along with architectural metal experts Zahner, will install long ribbons of stainless steel 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." At night, the color and steel forms will be lit with LEDs from within to accentuate the sculptural facade of the building. The original building will undergo these renovations without any major architectural changes itself.

Courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum

The transformation will also extend into the museum's interior, where 15,000 square feet of display space will be added. Redesigned galleries will feature state-of-the-art lighting, digital displays and innovative learning stations that tell the stories of the people and machines that revolutionized the 20th century. The permanent collection will be restored and upgraded to include historically significant American and European classics, hot rods, groundbreaking race cars, the latest in alternative fuel technology, cars with Hollywood heritage and even vehicles designed and built in LA. 

The Petersen is starting its own capital campaign to raise funds for these exciting exterior renovations. For more information on the new Petersen and this campaign, visit

References: The Petersen (1, 2), LATimes

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Cite: Barbara Porada. "Petersen Automotive Museum Unveils Eye-Catching New Exterior by Kohn Pedersen Fox" 22 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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