This Weekend's Oscars Ceremony Will Take Place Inside a Train Station

Turning Union Station into a star-filled event space isn't an easy task

Los Angeles Exteriors And Landmarks - 2021
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In a year that has brought a new appreciation of slow travel and the election of an American president so famously devoted to Amtrak that he has a railroad station named after him, it’s never been more fashionable to book a train trip. But Hollywood’s biggest spotlight is set to shine on trains this weekend in a whole new way when the 93rd Academy Awards takes place this Sunday in downtown Los Angeles' storied Union Station. 

To prioritize safety for an in-person event amidst the pandemic, producers needed to think outside the box. In the true spirit of show business, they decided to take a dramatic swing. The task of converting Union Station—a bustling regional transportation hub that serves over 100,000 riders daily—into a movie star-filled event space is no easy task. Still, the hall's regal 62-foot vaulted ceilings and spacious outdoor patios made it a no-brainer for the perfect place to celebrate the biggest night in movies.

Oscars union station design

Courtesy of Rockwell Group

The ceremony will primarily occur inside the station’s Grand Waiting Room and historic ticketing hall, with the old ticket-counter room serving as the main stage. The north and south patios will be used as a stage for the pre- and post-show. The ceremony’s lighting will incorporate the station’s own deco light features and the old ticket area’s 40-foot windows. Attendees must arrive in pods of two—a nominee and their guest—and will be seated together at socially distanced tables and banquettes.

Featuring various architectural styles ranging from Art Deco and Mission Revival to Streamline Moderne, the glamorous Union Station has always felt comfortable in front of a camera: it’s been used as a filming location for films ranging from "Blade Runner" to "The Dark Knight Rises." And the ceremony’s timing couldn’t be more perfect, with the 82-year-old station just having gotten major work done: an eight-year restoration of its historic ceiling completed just in time for Sunday's show.