The Petersen Automotive Museum for Los Angeles, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Rendering looking east.

The Petersen Automotive Museum for Los Angeles, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Rendering looking east.

Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates


The Petersen Automotive Museum is used to turning heads: Showcasing the Duesenberg once owned by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson will do that. But in July, the Los Angeles Times reported that the museum was raising eyebrows by selling some of the classic cars from its collection—that one among them.

Last month, The New York Times Wheels blogger Robert Sass went further, describing in detail some of the cars sold off by the Petersen. There's more on here and here on the museum's plans to sell something like a third of about 400 classic cars as it changes course. In addition to sales, Kohn Pedersen Fox will play a big role in the museum's efforts to generate more return traffic.

Rendering looking across Fairfax, along Wilshire Blvd.

Rendering looking across Fairfax, along Wilshire Blvd.

Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates


The museum tapped the firm to plan a renovation that will add exhibition space and a dazzling new façade. The new museum exterior by Kohn Pedersen Fox adds a corrugated aluminum rain screen to the building's current façade—and features a signature series of ribbons made with angel-hair stainless steel. As a release on the firm's website puts it, "The existing building is like a chassis without a body."

For some, the new exterior—and several changes to the interior, including increased exhibition space—will be one more aspect of a startling change in direction for the institution, which was founded in 1994. Plainly, the museum's leaders hope that it is one of the more palatable changes. The museum hopes that its new focus on motorcycles and classic French cars, along with the new design, will lead repeat visitors to make up as much as 60 percent of the museum's daily visitors.

Aerial rendering.

Aerial rendering.

Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates


Entrance to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Entrance to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates