Last November 19, television producer Jerry Biederman wrote to the Television Academy with a unique request.
He and wife Lorin had been married at the Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on November 26, 1994, perhaps the only couple ever to be wed there. Would it be possible for them to visit the Goldenson as a special way to celebrate their twentieth anniversary?
Learning that the theater had closed in preparation for an ambitious construction effort, Biederman was delighted to receive a piece of black granite from the Goldenson lobby as a memento of his wedding. He’s having the stone made into pieces of jewelry for himself and Lorin.
If you have visited the Television Academy’s NoHo Arts District campus recently, you’ve seen a massive steel skeleton rising on the former site of the Goldenson Theatre.
But before any of this could begin, at the end of 2014, the Academy spent several months focused on the careful dismantling of the Goldenson. In addition to fulfilling Jerry Biederman’s special request, attention was placed on finding appropriate ways to repurpose, reuse, donate or recycle as much of the theater’s furnishings and equipment as possible.
Several hundred items, primarily film and electronic equipment and theatre seats, were donated to appreciative beneficiaries, including the Motion Picture Academy Museum, the Wilshire Screening Room in Beverly Hills, and the Historic Hemet Theatre.
Simultaneously, the busts, full figure bronzes, wall sculptures and mosaic portraits that adorned the Academy’s Hall of Fame Plaza, along with the 19-foot Emmy that graced the courtyard’s fountain, were carefully removed and put in protective storage.
In addition, the large Emmy statues that flanked the Goldenson stage were put on loan to the Valley Relics museum in Chatsworth, where television fans can visit and pose with them until they take their place inside the Academy’s new multi-purpose facility.
Next, the job of overseeing the site demolition fell to Bill Honnold, who serves as the Academy rep on the Media Center project, and Ankur Verma of MATT Construction. The two men managed every detail to prepare for the Goldenson’s dismantling.
“You don’t just take a hammer and bring down a building,” Verma points out. “It’s a planning process, with safety considerations, both for the people working on the project, and in the adjacent buildings.”
The process required what Verma calls “an orchestra of equipment” – called Ultra High Demolition Excavators – working together to pull down the structure in just the right direction.
Great consideration was also paid to the sorting and management of the piles of debris—some as high as twenty feet—that resulted, a practice that will help the Academy in its quest for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification of the new Media Center. LEED recognizes best building strategies and practices as part of its green building certification program.
“It was a natural, essential progression to seek LEED certification for our new Media Center, beginning with this early stage—using eco-friendly materials for construction and managing construction and demolition waste responsibly,” notes Maury McIntyre, president and COO of the Television Academy. “We’re committed to incorporating green building practices in every phase of this project, through completion and beyond.
“What’s most exciting now is to see this larger, multi-purpose structure take shape,” continues McIntyre. “Inside the expanded footprint and the foundations of the Media Center, you can see the framework of a fully modern theatre, spacious subterranean areas for a green room, production and storage facilities, as well as the steel outlines of a grand lobby area, second story offices, conference and meeting areas.
"It’s great to envision all the spaces that will allow us to showcase new technology, premiere content, lead important conversations about the future of our industry—and offer the digital connectivity to reach global audiences.”
Stay tuned for our next update, about the architect’s vision for the Media Center and the progress of construction.
Watch more Time Lapse videos of the demolition and construction.