|California Academy of Sciences » General Information » Newsroom » Archive » 2002 » New Academy Announcement July 10, 2002|
CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES UNVEILS PLANS FOR NEW
During the project, scheduled to begin in early 2004, the Academy will
relocate to a temporary home in San Francisco. The Academy will present
a range of outreach programs throughout the Bay Area during this period
and will showcase many animals from the Steinhart Aquarium in the temporary
facility. The estimated total cost of the project is $370 million including
building, exhibition, and costs associated with the temporary facility,
as well as funds to strengthen the Academy's endowment. The new Academy
is slated to open in early 2008.
The Academy was one of the countrys first institutions dedicated
to exploring and protecting the natural world and has shared its discoveries
with the public since its founding in 1853. This major new initiative
builds on the Academys distinguished history and will strengthen
its mission to advance scientific literacy, awareness about the natural
world, and conservation of natural resources.
Since the California Academy of Sciences was established nearly
150 years ago, science has progressed exponentially, said Executive
Director and Curator Dr. Patrick Kociolek. In the last few decades
alone entire new fields of science have emerged that are having profound
impacts on our lives. The Academy must keep pace in sharing this expanding
body of knowledge with the public. We are reinventing the Academy, physically
and programmatically, to provide an experience that is relevant and inspiring.
We are also strengthening our commitment to explore, understand, and protect
the natural world, and in so doing, helping to lead this region and the
nation in meeting the challenge of ensuring the health of our planet.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop and San Francisco-based Gordon H. Chong
and Partners have worked with the Academy to create a design that responds
to the institutions needs, history, and setting. Internationally
recognized for buildings that are respectful to their environment, Piano
has developed a design plan that transforms the Academys twelve
buildings, built over a period of eighty years without a master plan,
into a unified facility.
We will create a building that has a gentle presence and a visual
as well as functional dialogue with its natural surroundings, commented
Renzo Piano. The design is shaped and informed by its context
the star of this building is nature. The architecture of the new Academy
will tell the story of science and what it reveals about the living world
that surrounds us.
While celebrating the Academys history, the new facility will also
ensure the museum complex is seismically safe. A number of the Academys
buildings were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and some public
areas have remained closed since then. The new facility will also address
the long-term wear and tear caused by over 100 million visitors passing
through the museum since its opening in Golden Gate Park in 1916.
About the New Design
The architecture of the new Academy will be a physical and conceptual
extension of its mission to tell the story of science. The new facility
will incorporate environmentally responsible construction technology and
recycled and renewable building materials into an aesthetically accomplished
master plan. Inspired by imagery in nature, the design will integrate
architecture with the natural landscape and embrace its environment. Expansive
windows will offer visitors views into the Park, and for those outside,
into the exhibitions. The new facility will provide more square footage,
but on a smaller footprint than the existing buildings, by making more
efficient use of interior space and employing underground construction.
Renzo Piano's humanistic vision adds a wonderful dimension to the
project," Dr. Kociolek adds. He has masterfully combined sustainable
architecture and innovative design with a sensitivity to Golden Gate Park
that bespeaks the Academys commitment to environmental responsibility.
A striking element of the new Academy will be its roof, which will slope
gently over interior elements, linking different functional areas. The
planetarium, rainforest, and aquarium exhibition spaces will be discernible
from the exterior as elevations in the undulating roofline, evoking the
hills behind the Academy. This living roof will include vegetation
as an organic extension of the exhibition program, blending the building
with its environment. A small portion of the roof will be accessible to
visitors, with an exhibit space nestled between the landscaped areas.
At the heart of the new building will be a partially glass enclosed piazza,
which will be used year round.
The new Academy will provide enhanced exhibition and research areas as
well as educational programs and visitor services. A new Naturalist Center
will enable visitors to engage in hands-on activities in labs and classrooms,
and a significantly enlarged early childhood education center will offer
interactive learning for children under six. A new auditorium and modernized
classrooms will allow the Academy to meet the growing demand for science-based
learning opportunities for children and students.
Several design elements central to the Academys historic identity
will be restored or evoked. These include the neo-classical beaux-arts
structure that houses the dioramas of Africa Hall, the Steinhart Aquariums
barrel-vaulted ceiling, columns, and the Swamp, and the classical
structure of North American Hall.
About the New Exhibition Spaces
Unlike traditional museum exhibition organization with separate
halls devoted to single geographic areas or individual disciplines
the new Academy will feature flexible, integrated exhibition spaces that
reflect the interconnections of the living world and the multidisciplinary
nature of science. As the countrys only combined aquarium, planetarium,
and natural history museum, the California Academy of Sciences is uniquely
positioned to make dynamic use of this innovative design strategy.
With the creation of the new Academy, we have the rare opportunity
indeed responsibility to re-conceive the institution from
the ground up. We will combine 150 years of outstanding accomplishments
in research and education with the best of 21st century science, technology,
and design. There is virtually no other museum in the country that stands
at such an extraordinary moment, said W. Richard Bingham, Chair
of the Academy's Board of Trustees.
The new Steinhart Aquarium will feature a creative layout, offering visitors
unprecedented perspectives on the fascinating world of water. Immersive
exhibition spaces will introduce visitors to the central role aquatic
environments play in the living world. One of the Steinhart's distinctive
new exhibits will be a 20 feet deep, 212,000 gallon living Philippine
coral reef habitat. The Steinharts existing coral reef exhibit is
a 6,000 gallon tank.
A dramatic, multi-level exhibition space will represent four rainforests,
telling the story of the earths most diverse terrestrial habitats
with the sights and sounds particular to each locale. Visitors will take
a vertical journey through the different rainforest zones, from the forest
floor to the upper canopy, seeing the unique insects, plants, reptiles
and amphibians that live in these vital habitats.
A new Morrison Planetarium will offer visitors the opportunity to journey
to the edges of space and time, tracing the beginnings of the universe
and the evolution of the elements that comprise all life on earth. The
state-of-the-art facility will reveal remarkable cosmic discoveries that
scientists are making at a rate unprecedented in the history of science.
A critical part of the Academy's mission is sharing the excitement of
scientific exploration and discovery. In the new Academy, visitors will
have increased access to the Academy's research and collection areas.
Views into the modernized research labs and diverse collections will allow
visitors to look behind the scenes and see the Academy's scientific work
as it takes place.
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