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Everybody Wants to Get Into the Act

September 22, 1996|Frances Anderton

MCA/Universal and the DreamWorks SKG team are not the first entertainment companies to use architecture as a marketing tool:

* Disney Chairman Michael Eisner has long been noted for his passion for architecture. In 1988 he selected celebrated architects--Postmodernists Robert A.M. Stern and Michael Graves, both of New York; Santa Fe, N.M., regionalist Antoine Predock and L.A.'s own iconoclastic Frank Gehry--to inject lighthearted, abstract architectural forms into the otherwise strictly themed Disneyland Paris (commonly known as Euro Disney).

Back at Disney's Burbank lot, Eisner commissioned Graves to design the Team Disney building and Stern designed the striking Feature Animation Building (with the classic "Fantasia" cone-shaped hat easily seen from the Ventura Freeway). Currently under construction is the Frank G. Wells production building for TV animators, designed by founding Postmodernists Venturi, Scott-Brown & Associates.

In Anaheim, Eisner and Gehry cemented their shared passion for ice hockey in the construction of Disney ICE, a rink for the Mighty Ducks. Gehry also designed the undulating ribbon of yellow stucco at Disneyland that is the new Team Disney building in Anaheim.

* Rupert Murdoch, owner of 20th Century Fox, is sponsoring one of the largest construction projects in the city. The new 470,000-square-foot Broadcasting Operations Building (or "Brain Center") on the Fox lot, designed by architects HLW International, is at present a vast hole in the ground but promises to be an imposing corporate building. Also underway at Fox is the similarly styled 300,000-square-foot New Executive Building, also by HLW International.

* Celebrated L.A. architects Hodgetts & Fung, designers of the ingenious Towell Library at UCLA, are reportedly working on as-yet-unannounced state-of-the-art projects for L.A.-based entertainment companies. The firm just won the Chrysler Award for Innovations for its design for the pavilion for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, created for Microsoft here earlier this year.

As with Rem Koolhaas' work for MCA/Universal, Hodgetts & Fung's works in progress are being kept under wraps. As Craig Hodgetts points out, because of the high level of competition for impressive architectural statements, entertainment companies are now treating new plans for facilities like auto industry handlers launching new cars--wrapped in a shroud of secrecy.

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