Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California:

Projects with Zahner often come about as the result of placing limitless possibility in the hands of a design team. One of the big challenges is to create a building that not only reflects the spirit of its community, but also redefines the space and its surroundings.

Photo of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Situated on Los Angeles’ famous Miracle Mile, the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum encases a red painted aluminum rainscreen, whose custom corrugated profile wraps the existing structure. This acts as the backdrop for a series of stainless steel ribbons that wind across the exterior.

The project made use several major patented Zahner technologies and methodologies: the ZEPPS® Process for designing and manufacturing the building's curved forms; the Angel Hair® non-directional surfacing applied to each of the stainless steel skins attached to the curved forms; and Design Assist, Zahner's method for developing complex projects into factory-produced realities. The project also includes an ImageWall™ custom perforated metal screen which continues the architect's design as a perforated metal graphic across the building's parking structure. The Petersen Automotive Museum is the mark of when a design team confidently departs from convention.

Photo of Underneath the undulating ribbon facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum

Underneath the undulating ribbon facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Detail of the facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum

Detail of the facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Detail of the ribbon's muted reflective surface

Detail of the ribbon's muted reflective surface.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Making the Petersen Automotive Museum

Zahner’s scope on the Petersen Automotive Museum began under a Design Assist contract. The designers at Kohn Pedersen Fox had previously visited Zahner’s headquarters on a tour, and were inspired by the focus on possibilities rather than limitations.

Design development for the Petersen Automotive Museum began in 2012. Principal Trent Tesch knew that the complex shapes would be best defined under a Design Assist contract with Zahner. Examining the forms gave the team an opportunity to approach their design with as much information as possible. Design Assist enabled KPF to bring the client into conversation with Zahner, who would be providing both the fabrication and installation of the entire building envelope.

Sharing models and preliminary drawings while the design was still conceptual allowed for conversations regarding costs and aesthetic to remain transparent, and for the client to be well informed of potential costs during the decision making process.

Photo of Design Assist Mockup for the Petersen Automotive Museum

Design Assist Mockup for the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Design Assist Mockup at dusk for the Petersen Automotive Museum

Design Assist Mockup at dusk for the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

The Mock Up as a Design Catalyst

As part of the Design Assist contract, Zahner included a scale visual mockup. Mockups are included as part of the Design Assist process in order to both aid in design decision making and determine the best method for building any given form. The team selected the lower northeast corner of the building’s design to fabricate as a mockup section. This empowered the design team to determine how the ribbons would wrap around the corner, an integral aspect of the building’s design.

The mockup process gave Zahner crucial insight into how to best develop the red-painted structural steel armatures which are used throughout the project. The mockup also helped the design team establish the ideal color for the painted corrugated aluminum surface.

Creating the new Petersen Automotive Museum facade

One challenge in working with an existing façade is how to go about redefine its shape.

The existing building, purchased by the Petersen Automotive Museum in 1994, was rectilinear and fairly straightforward in form. It was originally a department store. Six years after the store closed, museum founder Robert Petersen chose the site to house his automotive museum. Since the Museum is nearly devoid of windows, the site was ideal for safely housing Mr. Petersen’s collection without harmful exposure to sunlight.

Photo of Zahner installers hang a ZEPPS® Ribbon Assembly at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Zahner installers hang a ZEPPS® Ribbon Assembly at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Zahner fabricators create the ZEPPS® Ribbon assemblies for the Petersen Automotive Museum

Zahner fabricators create the ZEPPS® Ribbon assemblies for the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of 3D Model of a single ZEPPS® Assembly for the Petersen Automotive Museum

3D Model of a single ZEPPS® Assembly for the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Zahner field installers at the construction site for the Petersen Automotive Museum

Zahner field installers at the construction site for the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Because the existing building contained very little glass and was essentially box-like in form, it acted as a blank canvas for the design team. Zahner’s ZEPPS® Process was used to build curving stainless steel ‘ribbons’ around the building, giving it a feeling of rapid motion. The result looks similar to the aerodynamic flow diagrams drawn in wind tunnel tests by automotive designers.

Using ZEPPS® to Create Dual-Curving Forms

To build complex dual curving forms with the lightest structural loads, Zahner uses the ZEPPS® process. ZEPPS® stands for Zahner Engineered Profiled Panel Systems, and comprises Zahner’s approach to building complex, curvilinear forms. The crux of the system is the paring down of a complex design into manageable parts for manufacturing.

Using an architect’s 3D model, Zahner’s engineers examine geometry with a manufacturing mindset. Each curve is analyzed and developed into a series of patented aluminum structural components. These components are pre-assembled at the shop and compose the structural form for each ZEPPS® Asssembly. Using aluminum extrusions rather than steel allows for a lighter load on the structure of the façade, and also allows for more economical fabrication methods.

The final step in creating with ZEPPS® is to clad it in surface material. For the Petersen Automotive Museum, Zahner's Angel Hair® Stainless Steel surface was selected. After the structure is built, each ZEPPS® is clad in the desired metal, and loaded onto a truck for field install. By breaking dual curves into units, ZEPPS® creates precision within the manufacturing process, and allows for much quicker field installation.

Photo of Detail of the Petersen Automotive Museum's Angel Hair® Stainless steel

Detail of the Petersen Automotive Museum's Angel Hair® Stainless steel.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum

Roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of View of Wilshire Blvd during the construction of the Petersen

View of Wilshire Blvd during the construction of the Petersen.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Underneath the Roof of the Petersen Automotive MuseumPhoto of the Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

 

Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Underneath the Roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum

Underneath the Roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Structural Steel

A new structural steel exoskeleton was needed to carry the loads from the red corrugated rainscreen as well as the cantilevered stainless steel ribbons which arch over the rooftop to provide shading for a private event space.

Working with the designers’ 3D models, Zahner’s team of engineers developed a series of tree-like forms in structural steel to support the ZEPPS® Ribbon assemblies. The structural steel skeleton was inspired by hot rod manifolds to serve the dual purpose of providing aesthetic cohesiveness as well as functional support for cantilevered elements of the design. The structural ‘trees’ support the ribbons that flow over the roof area, as well as the Fairfax Ave ground level ribbons.

The ZEPPS® ribbons required custom curved structural steel within each unit. Zahner mapped out each curved radius using the 3D model, allowing for fabrication in the shop to be handled quickly and precisely.

Custom Corrugated Aluminum

Painted aluminum acts as the backdrop for the stainless steel ZEPPS® forms, echoing the concept of a sports car in bright red intensity. The aluminum was completely custom, and unlike any standard corrugated pattern. The corrugated profile formed an exact 90 degree angle, versus the typical sine wave that is commonly seen in corrugated metals.

To accommodate for the custom nature of this design element, Zahner formed each of the corrugated panels in house, utilizing a custom die within the press brake.

ImageWall® Screenwall for the Petersen Parking Enclosure

As a continuation of the stainless steel ribbons, the design team also selected a painted red aluminum ImageWall™ for the Museum’s Parking Garage. Using Zahner’s patented technology, ImageWall™ uses perforated holes to map an image across multiple panels. In this case, the image provides cohesiveness, and ties the parking garage in with the larger façade.

Photo of ImageWall Screenwall enclosing the Parking Structure of the Petersen Automotive Museum

ImageWall Screenwall enclosing the Parking Structure of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Detail of the screenwall facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum

Detail of the screenwall facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of the Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

Photo of Parking Structure Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California

Parking Structure Screenwall at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Photo © A. Zahner Co.

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