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Moving Picture Company | Notes of Interest

This 8,200-square-foot visual effects post-production facility is located within a generic office building in downtown Santa Monica, California. The Moving Picture Company is a United Kingdom-based visual effects post-production company, a forerunner in the visual effects and animation fields for the feature film, advertising, music and television industries. The facility serves as the United States Headquarters.

For the type of work involved in this space, not just any design solution would work. Techniques with film and photography can require the use of very private, internal rooms, and the ability to fully control the features of some of these spaces, such as lighting, is pivotal. In addition, without the option of expanding in space further into the office building, the project needed to house grading rooms, edit bays, conference rooms, open and closed offices, client areas, production spaces, entertaining areas, tape vaults, mechanical rooms, machine rooms and support spaces. With all of these trade-specific and spatial considerations, the design needed to be something that functioned very internally, yet avoided any darkness or cave-like dismalness that could come with ensuring that these functional inner spaces were operable.

The company is highly regarded for its work in the field of color manipulation in film. So with this in mind, the project’s design explores the notion of light as it relates to color. The forms and patterns developed are produced using studies of light. Light is analyzed and modeled three-dimensionally. Frames from the animation are chosen and layered to organize spatial qualities and movement throughout the office environment.

An organic, sinuous spine weaves its way through the suite. An appendaged soffit grows from the serpentine walls and serves as an armature for cable trays, mechanical and electrical systems. Light portals pierce the organic forms and are equipped with programmable LED lighting. Patterns derived from the animated studies are emblazoned onto the laser cut walls and circumscribe the interior.

Movement is expressed throughout the space in many ways. The lighting scheme reinforces the notion of movement. Groupings of LED lights penetrate the serpentine wall and emit color. The aluminum pieces are custom fabricated to house the LED fixtures. The housings are flush with the outer, public face of the wall and protrude into the private rooms. The fixtures add texture and create a more intimate scale to the larger context. The lighting is programmable, offering various intensities and color options. The otherwise colorless scheme is ever-changing, as per the client’s wishes.

As a result of this design, existence within this space is a unique experience of movement and varying tone. And in addition to this provision of light, structure, and motion, the building itself serves as a reminder and homage to the professional field it aids.

Additional Credits

  • Photo Credit: © Art Gray Photography

Moving Picture Company

Jury Comments

The space is deftly crafted to be appropriate to the program and users it serves. The spatial sequence is cinematic-- the reel-like element that organizes the space changes as one moves through it, frame by frame, incorporating the various moods, lighting environments, theatrical clues, and subtle suggestion of movement through a process.

Thought and investigation went into this space that truly embodies themes of the user’s business. Movement, drama, and light give this space a fun and dynamic feel.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • John Ronan, AIA, (Chair)
  • John Ronan Architects
  • Chicago
  • Jaime Canaves, FAIA
  • Florida International University-
  • School of Architecture
  • Miami
  • Margaret Kittinger, AIA
  • Beyer Blinder Belle Architects
  • New York City
  • Brian Lewis
  • The Capital Group Companies
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • Brian Malarkey, AIA
  • Kirksey
  • Houston

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