Mullin Automotive Museum

Mullin Automotive Museum


Previously an automotive museum owned by the legendary newspaper mogul, Otis Chandler, Mr. Mullin purchased the building with the mission of transforming it into a new world class museum celebrating the Art Deco Movement. It would provide homage to the era that produced exquisite decorative art and magnificent automobiles. Displayed
would be some of the finest historic French automobiles from the Bugatti to the Voisin as well as decorative art from the same period.

As purchased, the building was a 46,800 sf, tilt up concrete building with a mezzanine located in an industrial area. Very little on the exterior pointed to it being a museum, rather it appeared as one of the many warehouses in the area. The interior had an elevator for cars to be lifted to the mezzanine, but otherwise, everything on the interior and exterior had to be remodeled into a style befitting everything Art Deco.

The challenge was working with Mr. Mullin and the design team to make the vision a reality. The marriage of creative design and practical constructability would be required, Necessitating a close working relationship of all parties.

Prior to commencing the museum, Mr. Mullin and Interscape had worked together on a number of his office remodeling projects. For the Mullin Automotive Museum, we were brought in to provide pre-construction services to provide consultation on costs, scheduling, constructability analysis and value-engineering. Over a year and a half, we provided 13 separate and distinct budgets. With the final drawings being agreed upon, we bid out to all of the subcontractor trades, picked up the permit, and started construction. Final building sign-off was secured a year later.

Amongst a plethora of challenges, these are a few:

- At the exterior entrance, the architect wanted to have a covered canopy with a glass shingled look. He wanted to use actual windshields from a Ford Econoline, overlapping one another, and to be held together with clips which were to be attached to the supporting beams. With our research, it was determined that these laminated glass
windshields (since they were to be frameless) would be susceptible to cracking.

Additionally, they would have to be tempered per Code. Keeping the design intent, we developed design detailing which had the windshields manufactured from scratch which were both laminated and tempered and could be mechanically fastened. The result was the exact look the architect envisioned but with a solid permanent (and
code compliant) installation.

- At the entry below the canopy, there was to be aluminum paneling around the glass doors. During construction, Mr. Mullin envisioned a design improvement to make the aluminum shroud mimic the skin of a vintage Bugatti race car. After numerous mock-ups of aluminum finish and the size and spacing of rivets, approval was made to proceed - the result is a surprising facsimile of the skin of a vintage Bugatti race car.

- At the corner of the building, there was the design interest in having a stainless steel corner piece reminiscent of an automotive grill of the '30s. The solution was to install curved steel bracing with stainless steel paneled and perforated screens. Attached to the screens is signage for the museum.

- Since there was to be a rooftop deck and garden, an elevator had to be installed. The wish was to have one with an open elevator shaft and cab to appear like a 1930s French elevator. Mr. Mullin also wanted to utilize a pair of authentic wrought iron gates that he had purchased in Argentina. With obvious limitations because of modern elevator codes, an extraordinarily creative solution had to be developed. Working with the architect and
the manufacturer of a prefabricated elevator company, we helped design an open elevator hoist way and elevator cab with windows in it. Upon fabrication, the complete hoist way and cab assembly was delivered and lifted into the building with a crane in a single day.

Steel stairs were then built around the outside of the hoist way with glass being installed on the inside. For decoration, wrought iron panels were installed on the outside of the glass and, for practicality, were hinged allowing the glass to be cleaned. On the outside of the stairs, we installed additional glass panels, attached with stand-offs to the stairway itself. Additionally, Mr. Mullin's gates were installed at the ground floor. The result is one the most unique and aesthetically pleasing Art Deco (but modern) elevator assemblies ever created.

- The complete renovation of a 46,800 sf. building with mezzanine

- Full new base building HVAC and electrical.

- Many sustainable green building features including solar photovoltaic solar panels, grass roof and efficient mechanical, lighting and electrical systems.

- The interior houses a theatre, gift store, archives, offices and display areas for automobiles and artworks. Additionally, there is a "Bugatti Club" on the mezzanine featuring period furniture, art, and an antique bar. Much of the mezzanine is dedicated to a LeMans Raceway and starting area scene with spectacular '30s racecars lined up ready to race. The ground floor level display area was made to appear as a 1930s Parisian auto show with lighting, decorations, and furnishing from that period. Three elevated platforms (one with a turntable) are in the center of the space to showcase some of the very special automobiles in the collection. The "barn-find" room displays an older, and unrestored, forlorn period French car in the setting of a dilapidated country barn, complete with hay on the floor and gas cans lying about. In another room, there is the display of a rusted chassis of a 1925 Bugatti, a relic dredged up after 70 years beneath the chill waters of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland.

- The exterior, besides the windshield canopy, aluminum skinned entry, and stainless steel corner space, the street side of the exterior features three fabric wrapped scrims to cover the existing building alcoves. Each of these scrims has a graphic abstract from the front fender, roof, or rear fender of a 1938 Talbot Lago. Extensive new
landscaping, including several 100 year old olive trees, adorns the exterior.

- The roof incorporates a roof deck with a grassy garden area for guests and A large photovoltaic panel array. A Versico single ply roof system with a white reflective property was installed.