Saban Media Center: A Box of Dreams Realized

Garnering accolades for its technological innovation and overall modernized environment the LEED gold Saban Media Center, was this year’s winner of CoreNet’s Innovative Workplace (more than 50,000 K SF) Award. We talked with the Saban Media Center’s core team Design Principal, Lee Pasteris of Gensler Los Angeles’s office, to learn more:

How did this project come about?

The technology for the theatre, campus and overall site was very dated and was due a modernization. I have a history of successful projects with media clients, movie studios, office buildings and spaces for clients including Sony, Warner Bros, and DreamWorks so it was a natural fit for this partnership.

How long ago did it begin?

From the beginning it was a fast-paced schedule. The D&D started in 2015 and lasted a total of 10 months and then we were given 18 months for construction and technical equipment and another 12 weeks to integrate the systems.

Who was involved from the design side and client side?

It was important to everyone that we had consistency in the core project team from start to finish. As for our group from Gensler, I also worked with Melvin Guieb and Peter Wilson. We had a project architect and design consultant, Fred Dagdagan, of FDagdagan Design who was responsible for all technical aspects of the theatre focused planning. We collaborated with him on planning and building and private and public function of the project. Contractor was on board, Ankur Verma of Matt Construction.

From the client side the three main people involved were their Chairman, CEO and CFO, along with a board of governors who would review lots of checks and balances. As a whole this team knew collaboration was very important. We worked together well and in the end created an amazing finished product.

What were the main goals of both the client and design team on the project?

It was important to Gensler to capture the Wolf Theatre as the heart and centerpiece of the area.

Any hurdles in achieving this?

The existing theatre had the attendees walk toward the back of the building to enter with the theatre screen on the south side. Our goal was to flip the screen orientation to the north side. There were quite a few case studies and diagrams to prove to the clients this was the right decision. A cost analysis for on-site digging into the ground was more expensive so convincing the client of this restructure wasn’t easy, but in the end it was so worth it. Switching this orientation of the new 600 square foot theatre, which now has a Dolby sound system and cinema and laser projectors, was critical to the site. It allowed open access to the public spaces and permitted the traffic to flow more naturally. In the end our client described it as a box of dreams – truly everything they saw in the project come to life.