Press Release

Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121

Andrew Ng (415) 379-5123


Groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, September 14 at 3 pm
First seeds will be sown for the new building's planted roof

SAN FRANCISCO (September 12, 2005) – Fourteen million insects and arachnids, two million pressed plants, nearly 300,000 bottled reptiles and amphibians from 166 countries, 10,000 sets of bird nests and eggs, 500 Japanese folk toys, thousands of live aquarium animals, and a long list of other scientific specimens are now one step closer to gaining a new home in Golden Gate Park. The Academy of Sciences has officially broken ground on its new building in the park and will celebrate with a groundbreaking ceremony on September 14.

During the ceremony, the Academy will recognize a longtime friend and former Chairman of the institution, William R. Kimball, by naming the new natural history museum in his honor. When it opens in 2008, filled with awe-inspiring exhibits and state-of-the-art technology, the Kimball Natural History Museum will be a powerful vehicle for furthering the goal of science education that Mr. Kimball so actively supported.

The ceremony will also feature a literal ground-breaking, during which Academy staff and donors will plant the first seedlings for the new building’s living roof. After testing a number of native plants over the past several years to determine which species would survive best in the museum’s Golden Gate Park site, the Academy has now selected four perennial plants and five annual flowers to plant on the living roof. These nine species are all native to California and will support a variety of native wildlife. Beach strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis) produce berries that attract a number of native birds, self heal (Prunella vulgaris) bears large tubular flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and bumble bees, sea pink (Armeria maritime) produces pom-pom-like flowers that attract butterflies and moths, stonecrop (Sedum spathulitholium) produces nectar for the Hairstreak butterfly and the threatened San Bruno elfin butterfly, tidy tips (Layia platyglossa) attract parasitic wasps and pirate bugs that feed on pest insects, miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor) and California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) provide nectar for bees and butterflies, California plantain (Plantago erecta) hosts a variety of butterfly larvae, and the bright yellow flowers produced by Goldfield plants (Lasthenia californica) attract a wide variety of beneficial native insects.

In addition to witnessing this ceremonial digging and planting, attendees at the groundbreaking event will also have the opportunity to view the larger-scale digging that is taking place on the new Academy site. Contractors are currently excavating the future home of the aquarium-support level of the building and laying the structural footing for the foundation. By December, the new building will begin to rise, and many of the larger aquarium tanks will start to take shape.

About the New Academy

Designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano with local partner Stantec Architecture (formerly Chong Partners), the new California Academy of Sciences will combine inspiring architecture with inventive exhibits to provide eye-opening interactions with the natural world for its visitors. Topped with a living planted roof, the new building will also integrate the Academy more sensitively into its natural environment in Golden Gate Park . The new facility will employ energy-efficient, environmentally-sensitive building strategies to help set a standard for sustainable architecture in civic buildings. The estimated total cost of the project is $488 million, including building, exhibition, relocation and interim operation costs. The new Academy is slated to open in 2008.


The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Kimball Natural History Museum. The Academy is in the midst of an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is scheduled to open on September 27, 2008. (415) 379-8000.

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