Project Description The California Academy of Sciences has developed plans for a dynamic new facility that will transform the Academy into one of the world's leading scientific and cultural institutions. The new Academy will combine inspiring new architecture with inventive exhibitions to provide visitors with eye-opening experiences of the natural world.

Opening Date
Mid 2008

Design Features and Integration into Golden Gate Park

  • The new Academy will be integrated more sensitively into the natural environment of Golden Gate Park.
  • The facility will also employ energy-efficient, environmentally-sensitive building technologies to help set a new standard for sustainable architecture in civic buildings.
  • A 'living' planted roof will feature undulating 'hills' that follow the form of major exhibition elements. The roof is designed to echo the landscape behind the Academy and will serve as an organic extension of the Academy's exhibition program. A small portion of the roof will be accessible to visitors and will feature an exhibit area nestled between the landscaped areas.
  • Views into Golden Gate Park from exhibition and interior spaces


Exhibitions and Public Spaces Highlights

  • The new Academy will feature flexible, integrated exhibition spaces and portions of Academy collections and research will be visible to museum visitors.
  • New Morrison Planetarium featuring state-of-the-art exhibits and digital technology
  • Rebuilt Steinhart Aquarium will include a new "Swamp", a 20 feet deep, 212,000 gallon living Philippine coral reef habitat and "jewel" tanks to showcase stunning diversity of aquatic life.
  • Dramatic multi-level Rainforest exhibit offering a vertical journey through four different rainforest habitats.
  • Live animal displays throughout the museum including penguins in restored African Hall
  • A new piazza will sit at the heart of the building and views into Golden Gate Park from within the new facility will strengthen the Academy's relationship to Golden Gate Park.

Enhanced Education Spaces and Services

  • New hands-on Naturalist Center staffed by education specialists will feature labs and classrooms
  • Expanded early childhood education center for children up to age 6
  • New Auditorium and modernized classrooms
  • Lunch room specifically for school groups

Facility Dimensions Total museum space in new Academy: 370,000 square feet. The new Academy will have more useable square footage, but on a smaller footprint than the existing facility. This is achieved by building a basement and making more efficient use of interior spaces. The new Academy will shift to the east, creating more green space between the Academy and Shakespeare Garden.

The Academy's Temporary Home

The Academy will relocate to 875 Howard Street between 4th and 5th Streets during the construction period. This temporary home will feature 85% of the animals from Steinhart Aquarium, a Naturalist Center, and prototypes of exhibits planned for the new Academy opening with Ants.

Architectural Team Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Genoa, Italy in collaboration with San Francisco based Gordon H. Chong and Partners.

Project Cost The Academy's rebuilding project will cost approximately $370 million. This includes strengthening the Academy's endowment, costs associated with the Academy's temporary home, and the new exhibition program.

Funding The Academy's rebuilding project is a result of a public/private partnership. Through early gifts and public funding, the Academy has secured more than $200 million. This includes $132 million as provided by public bond funds approved by San Francisco voters in 1995 (Prop C) and 2000 (Prop B) and the State of California. The balance of the funds will be raised through private individual, corporate, and foundation contributions to the new California Academy of Sciences Campaign.