OMA Universal Studios project records

OMA Universal Studios project records

Part of


  • Universal Studios, Inc. (archive creator)
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture (archive creator)


OMA Universal Studios project records

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • approximately 936 drawings (including approximately 400 bound reprographic copies)
  • approximately 200 models or parts of models
  • 1.4 linear metres of textual records
  • 0.03 linear metres of photographic materials
  • 38 digital files
  • 19 artefacts

Scope and Content

The OMA Universal Studios project records document an unexecuted architectural project commissioned by Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of the Seagram Company, for the company MCA, in which Seagram held a majority share. The commission to develop a headquarters building for MCA—subsequently known as Universal Studios--was given to the architectural firm OMA—the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. The project records document different phases of the design process from1996 to 1999. The project is documented through drawings, proposals, project manuals, reports, presentation panels and models—including numerous study models and a large-scale presentation model.

Reference Number



The OMA Universal Studios records were not in any discernable order. The material has been organized into a single series of project records for the Universal Headquarters Building:

Series AP082.S1. Project for a Universal Headquarters Building, Universal City, Los Angeles County, California (1995-1999)

Within the project series, some minimal arrangement was done to keep similar types of documents together, but the bulk of the material has not been arranged.

Administrative history

In December of 1995, the architectural firm OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), founded in 1975 by Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis, and Madelon Vriesendorp, was commissioned to design a new headquarters building for MCA, subsequently known as Universal Studios, in Universal City, Los Angeles County, California. The Seagram Company Ltd. (VO), under the direction of CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., held majority equity in MCA, having purchased it from the Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. in June of 1995. The commission involved creating a design that would facilitate better collaboration between the different departments at Universal. OMA worked on designs for the headquarters building from 1996 until 1999. At the end of 1999, the project was indefinitely put on hold.

At the beginning of 1999, Rem Koolhaas and Dan Wood founded a new research and design studio called AMO. The creation of AMO was the result of OMA’s experience working on the Universal project. The project had involved reflection on non-architectural issues related to Universal as an organization. This inspired the creation of a studio that would apply architectural thinking to non-architectural questions and supply solutions that were more flexible than the creation of a built work, such as the creation of a web site. The notion of architecture as a field of intellectual research was explored in the CCA exhibition “The Other Architect” (October 28, 2015-April 10, 2016) and the work of AMO was one of many examples of alternative architectural practice presented in the exhibition.



The other architect. Montréal, Québec : Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2015.

Wood, Dan. « Chronicle », A+U, 364 (2001:01), pages 14-26

Conditions governing reproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Universal Studios LLC.

Custodial history

The OMA Universal Studios project records were either in the custody of OMA or of Universal Studios before being transferred to the CCA in nine instalments between 1997 and 2005. The records include a 1:50 scale model of a design for the Universal Headquarters Building which was presented in an exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin from November 15, 2003-January 18, 2004. The exhibition was presented at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam from March 27-May 31, 2004 and was to have travelled to other venues in Europe, the United States and Asia in 2004 and 2005.

Archivist's note

  • The OMA Universal Studios project records were processed and described by Mary Gordon in 2017.

Credit line

Pour citer la collection en entier | Use this credit line when citing the entire collection :
OMA Universal Studios project records
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal;
Gift of Universal Studios LLC
Pour citer des objets spécifiques, veuillez vérifier la ligne de crédit de l’objet avec Référence à la collection.
When citing specific collection objects, please verify the object’s credit line with CCA Reference.

Language of material


Related units of description

  • The CCA collection includes documents compiled by Larry Richards, architectural advisor to Edgar Bronfman Jr., related to the search for an architect to design the Universal Headquarters Building (DR2007:0021:003).

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