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  5. Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  6. 2008
  7. California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

  • 01:00 - 28 September, 2008
California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop
California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop, © Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

© Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith © Tim Griffith +47

  • Design team

    M.Carroll, O.de Nooyer (partners in charge) with S.Ishida (partner), B.Terpeluk, J.McNeal, A.De Flora, F.Elmalipinar, A.Guernier, D.Hart, T.Kjaer, J.Lee, A.Meine-Jansen, A.Ng, D.Piano, W.Piotraschke, J.Sylvester; and C.Bruce, L.Burow, C.Cooper, A.Knapp, Y.Pages, Z.Rockett, V.Tolu, A.Walsh; I.Corte, S.D’Atri, G.Langasco, M.Ottonello (CAD Operators); F.Cappellini, S.Rossi, A.Malgeri, A.Marazzi (models)
  • Consultants

    Ove Arup & Partners (engineering and sustainability); Rutherford & Chekene (civil engineering); SWA Group (landscaping); Rana Creek (living roof); PBS&J (aquarium life support systems); Thinc Design, Cinnabar, Visual-Acuity (exhibits)
  • General contractor

    Webcor Builders
  • More SpecsLess Specs
© Shunji Ishida
© Shunji Ishida

From the architect. Designing a great cultural and scientific institution in San Francisco, a city with a strong collective vocation for the environment, also meant finding a language that expressed this shared vision of the present in an immediate way. Through the evocative spaces of the Museum of Natural History, the large green roof that breathes and the successful coexistence of outreach activities and research, the new headquarters of the California Academy of Sciences wanted, using architecture, to convey their passion for knowledge of nature and the fact that the earth is fragile.

The California Academy of Sciences was founded in San Francisco in 1853. It is one of the most prestigious institutions in the US, and one of the few institutes of natural sciences in which public experience and scientific research occur at the same location.

© Tom Fox, SWA Group
© Tom Fox, SWA Group

Following the widespread destruction of the Academy buildings by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, a consultation for this new building was held. Today’s Academy sits on the Golden Gate Park site of its predecessor, which was comprised of 11 buildings built between 1916 and 1976 and grouped around a central courtyard. Of these buildings, three have been conserved within the new project: the African Hall, the North American Hall and the Steinhart Aquarium. The new building has maintained the same position and orientation as the original, all the functions laid out around a central courtyard, which acts as entrance lobby and pivotal centre to the collections. This connection point is covered by a concave glass canopy with a reticular structure reminiscent of a spider’s web, open at the centre.

Public Floor Plan
Public Floor Plan

Illumination and Ventilation Rainforest Section Detail of Solar Canopy Site Plan +47

Combining exhibition space, education, conservation and research beneath one roof, the Academy also comprises natural history museum, aquarium and planetarium. The varied shapes of these different elements are expressed in the building’s roofline, which follows the form of its components.

© Nic Lehoux
© Nic Lehoux

The entire 37.000 sq. m complex is like a piece of the park that has been cut away and lifted 10 m up above the ground. This “living roof” is covered with 1,700,000 selected autochthonous plants planted in specially conceived biodegradable coconut-fibre containers. The roof is flat at its perimeter and, like a natural landscape, becomes increasingly undulating as it moves away from the edge to form a series of domes of various sizes rising up from the roof plane. The two main domes cover the planetarium and rain forest exhibitions. The domes are speckled with a pattern of skylights automated to open and close for ventilation.

Section
Section

The soil’s moisture, combined with the phenomenon of thermal inertia, cools the inside of the museum significantly, thus avoiding the need for air-conditioning in the ground-floor public areas and the research offices along the facade.

© Justin Lee
© Justin Lee
Detail of Skylights
Detail of Skylights

Photovoltaic cells are contained between the two glass panels that form the transparent canopy around the perimeter of the green roof; they provide more than 5% of the electricity required by the museum.

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

The choice of materials, recycling, the positioning of the spaces with respect to the natural lighting, natural ventilation, water usage, rainwater recovery and energy production: all of these design issues became an integral part of the project itself, and helped the museum obtain LEED platinum certification.

© Tim Griffith
© Tim Griffith

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop" 28 Sep 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/6810/california-academy-of-sciences-renzo-piano/>
Read comments

51 Comments

youcef beer · November 05, 2013

This building is really amazing.

jamin · November 27, 2012

l love thees project,I want the plans's,because I have to analyse the centre pampidoo and Astrup fearneley Oslo

Switch EnergyProject · July 19, 2012

Best building ever! The #LEED building has a rooftop with 1.7 mil plants and uses 35% less #energy http://t.co/8VdRCQ0Q http://t.co/UKeyakqU

?????????? ???????_ · July 18, 2012

??????? ?? _??????? ?? ???????
http://t.co/aLYPPSe0 http://t.co/C4xeS773

?????????? ??????? · July 18, 2012

??????? ?? _??????? ?? ???????
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Yalo Kolosova · July 18, 2012

??????? ?? _??????? ?? ???????
http://t.co/aLYPPSe0 http://t.co/C4xeS773

Ramón Rendo · July 12, 2012

El tuit arquitectónico del día, California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | http://t.co/38SG80t0 vía @archdaily

Paul O. Zelinsky · June 30, 2012

“@julianhector: @mshoughton This is one of my favorite new modern nature loving buildings. Roof = nature. http://t.co/m89R9B1Q” I&#39m grinning

JULIANHECTOR · June 30, 2012

@paulozelinsky @mshoughton This is one of my favorite new modern nature loving buildings. The roof is nature. http://t.co/7GclUXm3

Nuki Nuk · May 17, 2012

@parq lo vi recientemente recitymagazine y no pude evitar hacer una comparativa con http://t.co/Ebz7PHmw

Luis Maldaner · May 08, 2012

Conheça mais deste lindo projeto na Califórnia.
http://t.co/JlNj84fq http://t.co/sG7mJdkV

architizio · May 08, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/6Iq4fuVK via @archdaily

Qui Mineo · May 08, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano http://t.co/eDLcdqOW

zoomstudio · May 08, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/zQsHRPvW vía @archdaily

Ebanistería Arenas · May 08, 2012

Precioso! California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano http://t.co/7yYrXHhb

Barbara Olivieri · May 07, 2012

Great Architecture by Renzo Piano!
California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/zUxz7ShB via @archdaily

metin aygün · May 07, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano http://t.co/SqpHYnqu

JJ · May 07, 2012

Why LEED? Why NOT SERF?

CA Renderings · April 30, 2012

Renzo Piano in San Francisco with a porous green undulating surface. http://t.co/Ig7xGkCo

Irina · April 24, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/wHa7LYHr via @archdaily

Irina · April 24, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/wHa7LYHr via @archdaily

desyanne raffin · March 09, 2012

http://t.co/IYBNdfBn @JacklynGoenawan @ZefanyaW

Hadeer Taha · March 07, 2012

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/21vHohju via @archdaily

Sofitel SF Bay · March 01, 2012

#cityarchitecture: This week, California Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano: http://t.co/xHe4TJxg

cassianoamorim · December 28, 2011

Conheça um pouco mais sobre a Academy of Science, do arquiteto Renzo Piano http://t.co/WwyiiPZq - este prédio é o... http://t.co/CHPMcZOe

SBSF Brasil · December 28, 2011

Conheça um pouco mais sobre a Academy of Science, do arquiteto Renzo Piano http://t.co/WwyiiPZq - este prédio é o... http://t.co/CHPMcZOe

Curves 'Graph · December 20, 2011

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Madalena de Lellis · November 14, 2011

stuff like this makes me want to become an architect: http://t.co/6RUO0LJ3

Francesca Porcu · June 29, 2011

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/DQA88hD via @archdaily

Thomas McConnell · June 10, 2011

That's a incredible work, and good camera work too, thanks for sharing.

Ali Adnan Alwayel · May 24, 2011

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/qbkMLCH via @archdaily

Merri.Deria · May 20, 2011

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/yl9y56a via @archdaily

Personfindinginformation · May 03, 2011

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

sandra pires · April 30, 2011

What I missed in SF: California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/AIRUXIL via @archdaily

energysavinghouse · April 13, 2011

?????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????? http://fb.me/zd11Cpzd

tokue kajino · November 03, 2010

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/5C3WdWi via @archdaily

?????? · November 01, 2010

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano | ArchDaily http://t.co/Fsnpxkn via @archdaily??????????????

Marketing Mentorship · July 13, 2010

Wonderful photos of unique modern buildings that blend in with nature :) If the future isn't green, it isn't future :)

Miesgunnaroeyourboat · April 14, 2010

This building is really amazing.
I love it. I love it. I love it.

Alia · November 29, 2009

I loved the building when i first saw it. But when i searched for more pictures and details i changed my mind !!!

It has several styles, which i thought cant be combined together in a building !!! although i liked each style individually but not together :)

Komalantz · July 10, 2009

I wish i could be Renzo Piano in my next life.

By the way, and as th Buy Stock Photos posts says, this has been a nicely done contribution and i believe we all thank you about it.

Buy Stock Photos · April 25, 2009

Finally someone who can write a good blog ! . This is the kind of information that is useful to those want to increase their SERP's.

I loved your post and will be telling others about it. Subscribing to your RSS feed now. Thanks

kc · April 22, 2009

Where are the teletubbies????

How to Get Six Pack Fast · April 15, 2009

If you ever want to read a reader's feedback :) , I rate this article for four from five. Decent info, but I have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed parts. Thank you, anyway!

T Kjaer · January 15, 2009

The piazza in the center of the building is meant as a multifunctional space for concerts, shows, special temporary exhibitions etc. etc.

MattHawley · January 12, 2009

Hey Jaz. Plans and sections are featured in the November issue of 'The Plan' magazine. Its an Italian publication but you can find it in Borders. Hope this helps.

PeteBurns · November 14, 2008

Awesome building in-and-out's architecture and features, but still don't understand why so many and precious square feet are dedicated to feed the public (one enormous area,in the center and another on a building corner (by the way great food! but why building almost a third of the building as a food court?). Is there any other sciences to be displayed they could have missed?

Jaz · October 21, 2008

Hey this building is amazing, i was wondering does any one know here i could get the plans an sections for this?? please help! Thanks

Piper Johnny · March 25, 2013 10:13 PM

Look at Terra Dome out of kansas City. I built one of their domed earth sheltered houses in 1986 - great design.

atomico · September 30, 2008

Wajajajajajja! EM, you are my idol.

Karli · September 29, 2008

Ei checale esta bien padre!

Saludos David

Em · September 29, 2008

Teletubbies anywhere?

(sorry, but it is the first and only thing I can think of looking at pic #1...)

···

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© Tim Griffith

California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano