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Warner Bros. breaks ground on massive new studio with Gehry-designed 'iceberg buildings'

Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Warner Bros. on Tuesday officially broke ground on a pair of Frank Gehry-designed office towers, which when completed will mark a major expansion of the Burbank, Calif.-based movie and TV studio's headquarters.

The project, first announced last April, was commemorated in a ceremony with Warner Bros. Chief Executive Ann Sarnoff and Gehry, the famed Los Angeles architect, who designed the buildings to resemble two icebergs floating along the 134 Freeway.

The construction endeavor is part of a larger expansion of Warner Bros.' footprint in the area that includes the acquisition of Burbank Studios. The acquisition and building project is expected to conclude in 2023, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the studio's founding. As part of the deal, Warner Bros. is selling its historic North Hollywood Way facility known as the Ranch lot.

Warner Bros. is calling the design and construction phases of its new effort the Second Century Project, in honor of its upcoming centennial. The deal comes amid a production boom driven by massive demand for TV and film content.

"This is an investment in our employees, our creative and business partners and the Burbank community," Sarnoff said during remarks onstage at Burbank Studios.

Buying Burbank Studios will allow Warner Bros. to expand production efforts, providing additional office space, eight soundstages, a mill building and a commissary, the studio said when the deal was announced.

 

The studio was acquired by AT&T in 2018 as part of the phone company's larger purchase of Time Warner Inc. AT&T plans to take part in the streaming era with the coming launch of HBO Max.

The deal is one of Burbank's biggest real estate transactions ever, with a combined estimated value of more than $1 billion.

New Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer and Gov. Gavin Newsom touted the projected effect of the real estate project on the economy. The civic leaders said the construction is expected to generate 2.5 million hours of work.

"By definition, this is a project that shows confidence in our (California's) future," Newsom said. "This is a big deal, not just to Burbank, but to the entire region and the state."

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