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Honoring Television’s Legacy, and Looking to Its Future

The Television Academy’s Saban Media Center. Image © Gensler.

This weekend, television honors the best in U.S. primetime programming in one of the industry’s biggest nights: the 2016 Emmy Awards on Sept. 20. The event also commemorates the Television Academy’s 70th Anniversary, highlighted by a new, modernized campus with a state-of-the-art theater and media center.

One of my first visits at the existing Television Academy (TVA) site in North Hollywood, NoHo Arts District, was seeing a group of school children on a field trip, exploring the Academy’s Hall of Fame Plaza with its 20 foot high polished bronze Emmy and bronze busts of industry greats. As a designer, I felt obligated to create a memorable space for future generations. That is the obligation we have as architects and designers. We need to understand the history of a site and develop a connection with the local community, and in this instance, with the advancement of the television industry at large.

As the Television Academy celebrates its 70th Anniversary, the organization is at a critical point of its evolution. The Academy, best known for producing the annual Emmy Awards program, is looking to continue programming that honors the legacy of the television industry, while launching new programs that embrace the medium’s future evolution.

The Television Academy’s Saban Media Center. Image © Gensler.

The Academy needed a space that would reflect this industry shift, one that would embody the iconic organization’s future and its aim to reach new audiences in an age when viewers can watch content from any device, anywhere, at any time. The Academy made an investment in the future with a campaign to modernize its campus and endow its Foundation. The project goal was to build a new media center with a theater, digital production facilities and offices for the Academy Foundation staff that would allow the Academy to showcase new technology, premier content and offer digital connectivity to reach global audiences.

On June 2, the Academy celebrated an historic moment in with the opening celebration for the 30,000 square-foot Saban Media Center. The new, Gensler-designed center debuted with a state-of-the–art, 600-seat theatre, conference center, production and editing labs, and offices for the Foundation.

With a robust endowment, the Foundation will increase its educational outreach to deserving young people who want to work and innovate in the television industry. It plans to double the internship program and expand its scholarships for the benefit of its existing and future educational and archival programs.

The Television Academy’s Saban Media Center. Image © Gensler.

In addition to serving as the Foundation’s new home, the new LEED-certified facility will house many of the Academy’s programs, panels and community events. The new headquarters will be a highlight of the NoHo Arts District. The center was designed with sustainability in mind, with repurposed and donated theater seating, film and electronic equipment.

The building’s clean, unadorned design, is intended to endure over time, to evolve along with its programs and inspire future generations.

Lee Pasteris, NCIDQ, is a principal and design director at Gensler Los Angeles. She specializes in designing high-profile interiors for clients like Dreamworks Animation, Sony, Lionsgate and the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences. She promotes a research-driven process, continually seeking innovative ways to incorporate materials into architectural spaces. Also an accomplished product designer, she has created furniture groups and individual pieces for Martin Brattrud, Bentley, and Forms and Surfaces. Contact her at Lee_Pasteris@Gensler.com.