The Petersen Receives American Architecture Award

• While the Petersen is an auto museum, it also curates some wonderful motorcycle exhibits like its recent Harley vs Indian display. Check it out in our Petersen’s Packs House for Harley versus Indian Exhibit Debut article. – Ed

The Petersen Automotive Museum and Kohn Pedersen Fox have been honored by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design with its American Architecture Award for 2017.

Petersen Automotive Museum

Just over a year after its grand re-opening after a $90M remodel that changed the skyline of Los Angeles’ “Museum Row,” The Petersen Automotive Museum has been honored by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design as one of the most significant building projects in America owing to its radical exterior design by architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox. The American Architecture Award, which is presented in conjunction with The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press, has been given out every year since 1994, and will be presented at a gala ceremony held at the Orlando Museum of Art.

According to the Athenaeum, The American Architecture Award was created “to honor the best and most significant new buildings, landscape and planning projects which were designed and/or built in the United States or abroad by the most important American architects and planners practicing nationally and internationally.”

The Petersen’s renovation was unique among museum projects in that it was a retrofit, rather than a complete knock down or new building. Gene Kohn and Trent Tesch of Kohn Pedersen Fox worked together to take what had been a gray concrete box originally designed as a mid-century department store and transform it into a striking organic shape, serving as a visual anchor of the Miracle Mile neighborhood utilizing a façade of flowing stainless steel ribbons over a corrugated red shell.

“To even be considered for such an award is an honor,” said Terry Karges, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum. “Coincidentally, this award was created in 1994 – the same year Robert E. Petersen founded our museum in a repurposed department store. His vision was a powerful one, but it was not until our board of directors – lead by Peter Mullin, David Sydorick and Bruce Meyer – tapped Gene Kohn and his team that we were able to fully realize Petersen’s dream to build a museum in the heart of Los Angeles that serves as an intersection of cars and art, engineering and design. We now have a building as beautiful and thought provoking as the collection displayed inside. We are grateful for this honor, it would not have been possible without KPF, our local architects House & Robertson, and the craftsmen who built it at Zahner and MATT Construction.”

Previous projects to receive the American Architecture Award include the National September 11th Memorial Museum, the Pasadena City College Center for the Arts, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures which is being built across the street from the Petersen.

For more information about the event or exhibit, visit or call 323/964-CARS. For more information on the American Architecture Awards and the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design please visit For more information on Kohn Pedersen Fox please visit

Petersen’s Packs House for Harley versus Indian Exhibit Debut

It’s perfect timing for the unveiling of the new Harley versus Indian exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum. In two weeks, the two storied marques will be squaring off once again at the Daytona TT, resurrecting an over 100-year-old rivalry. Petersen’s provides an intimate look at that rivalry with its pairings of period pieces, from the board tracks to hill climbs, Harley punch met by Indian counterpunch. Checking out the 1912 Indian board tracker on display pitched at an angle as if it was once again raging around the high banked wooden planks , the Indian taking the low line under a 1920 Harley board tracker, you can almost hear the roar of the crowd. A few steps over and you’re in front of a 1925 Indian Altoona squared off against a 1930 Harley Peashooter, the hill climbers chained up and ready to rip as the history lesson continues.

Harley vs Indian Petersen's Automotive Museum

A sneak peek at the new Harley versus Indian exhibit at Petersen’s Automotive Museum.

It was a full house for the reception party for Petersen’s Harley versus Indian exhibit Thursday night, a blend of industry heavyweights in the antique motorcycle world rubbing elbows with the new guard of industry influencers. Cycle World Editor Mark Hoyer led a discussion panel with guests Don Emde, MotoAmerica CFO Richard Varner and Deus Ex Machina’s Creative Director Nevin Pontius on topics ranging from who fielded the first Wrecking Crew to the symbiotic relationship between the two companies, from the sales floor to the flat track.

Harley versus Indian board trackers Petersen's Automotive Museum

It’s Indian versus Harley as a 1912 Indian board tracker dives under a 1920 Harley tracker.

“All of us at the museum share a great passion for motorcycles,” said Terry Karges, Executive Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in the official press release. “It’s our great pleasure to be able to showcase the history of these two incredible American manufacturers and to educate the public on their contributions to American culture throughout the last century.”

2014 RSD Custom Indian Chieftain and Super Hooligan Scout 60

RSD shows off its design chops with its 2017 Custom Indian Chieftain and an Indian Scout Sixty Super Hooligan racer.

In addition to the Harley versus Indian displays is a special room dedicated to the accomplishments of Dan Gurney. Titled “The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All American Racers,” beauties like his 1993 Eagle MK III GTP #99  and 1971 AAR Indy Olsonite Eagle #2 form a semi-circle around the room, while one of Gurney’s Alligator bikes sits center stage.

Petersen’s new Harley versus Indian exhibit in the Richard Varner Family Gallery opens to the public Saturday, March 4, 2017 and will run through early February 2018. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Peterson’s Automotive Museum)