hat landmark says “L.A.” more than any other? Walt Disney Concert Hall? Watts Towers? The Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard? ¶ The Times’ arts team asked itself that question in debating where architect Renzo Piano’s “Death Star” — the new orb-shaped theater and viewing terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures — would rank in such a list. ¶ As part of a wholly unscientific exercise, we brainstormed a ballot of 25 sites that stand as visual icons of L.A. We included postcard classics as well as some fun wildcards like Pink’s hot dog stand, Randy’s Donuts and the 1989 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Western Avenue designed by Grinstein + Daniels Architects — a bucket-shaped paean to postmodernism. (Yes, it was lunchtime when we started brainstorming.)

Landmarks earned points for varied reasons. The Petersen Automotive Museum went onto the ballot simply because it’s across the street from the Academy Museum and impossible to miss (for better or for worse). The LAX Theme Building landed at No. 2 on one ballot because of its symbolism and sentiment: It’s the place where so many L.A. dreams begin, and it at once summons nostalgia for the past and hope for the future.

After writers and editors started filling out their ballots, other possibilities did suddenly become obvious: Dodger Stadium and the Rose Bowl. The Norton Simon Museum and the Huntington Botanical Gardens. The Venice Canals and the L.A. River. Grand Central Market and Musso & Frank. The Paramount water tower and the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. But we stuck to the original ballot and figured all the possible omissions can be part of your second-guessing fun.

The Hollywood sign ranked No. 1 on three ballots. Griffith Observatory, Disney Hall and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Urban Light” installation topped others’ lists.

In fairness to Piano and the Death Star, some landmarks need time to win over skeptics. While reviewing early Times photography of the glass-topped circular theater, editors noticed that when it’s viewed from a low angle, Piano’s creation looked less like a Death Star and more like a cute, minimalist farm animal. Perhaps it just needs a different nickname to rocket up the landmark rankings. “The Piggy,” anyone?