LA's Natural History Museum to Expand With Transparent "Front Porch" Additions

LA's Natural History Museum to Expand With Transparent "Front Porch" Additions

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) has released concept designs for the new NHM West/South Project – a scheme designed by LA firm Frederick Fisher and Partners (FF&P) in the first step towards a 10-year revitalization of the NHM as Exposition Park’s historic hub. The extensions would focus on the west and south sides of the museum, supporting new uses and reimagining the programs and spaces of its famous Ice Age fossil site at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in Hancock Park.

LA's Natural History Museum to Expand With Transparent Front Porch Additions - More Images

County Board Chairman Mark Ridley said of the project:

Exposition Park, and the Natural History Museum as its anchor, is about to enter the world stage as a cultural, entertainment, sports, and education destination. Its audiences are twofold: local Los Angeles County residents and visitors from all over the world, and the park partners need to connect with both. This new project provides a vibrant and transparent window into the mysteries of our world and will be an exciting and welcoming venue for the entire community.

A facilities program plan for the Exposition Park museum campus has been developed by the NHM and FF&P to address increasing capacity, flexibility and transparency of the gallery space by improving the visible storage of its collections and creating a new study center. This program plan should serve as a catalyst for the architectural design process to follow.

NHM South Façade (south elevation): The museum’s southwestern perimeter is re-envisioned as a welcoming “front porch” extending from Bill Robertson Lane to the existing South Entrance. Along this accessible path, a new Welcome Center and redesigned circulation and landscape elements create a more seamless transition between indoors and out, increasing the museum’s connection to the community and making it a true urban “place.”. Image Courtesy of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

A multi-purpose, immersive theater is proposed as a gathering space for the Exposition Park community and surrounding neighborhoods to encourage and facilitate dialogue about critical issues affecting the cultural and natural worlds. Another preliminary concept suggests replacing the existing Jean Delacour Auditorium with a new addition that would bookend the mass of the museum and complement the heritage attributes of the existing structure. A façade of glass with varying levels of transparency would respond the the desire to create openness within the park and the community, with visitors to the South Lawn able to see into the museum. 

New Lobby, Welcome Center and Theater Entrance: A new entrance on the southwest corner provides direct access from Exposition Park’s South Lawn into NHM’s new immersive theater for performances, screenings, lectures, satellite-transmitted scientific expeditions from around the world, and a variety of community gatherings. Visually and physically connected to the existing museum building’s ground level temporary exhibition Gallery and first floor Welcome Center loggia, this new entrance also allows for access to the theater and restaurant outside of museum hours.. Image Courtesy of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

A new entry to the building at the southern corner would act as a kind of “front porch,” extending the length of the southwest perimeter. A double height lobby would invite visitors into a Welcome Center and to a transparent passage towards the Grand Foyer. The proposal suggests a reworking of the gallery and office spaces of the museum to create a more interesting overlap between research activities, educational programs and the display areas. Tourists and locals would also be drawn to a proposed rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the immediate context and the wider city as a whole.

Courtesy of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

As a national leader in research, exhibitions and education and accommodating close to 1.3 million visitors annually, the NHM has been a crucial cultural landmark in Los Angeles since 1913. Its 10-year Next transformation, completed in 2013, generated award-winning exhibitions. This future 10-year plan will seek to resolve elements of the future of the museum that were not addressed. With the architectural design and guidance of FF&P, the NHM hope to further and represent their research of “a museum paradigm that once focused on the past, but increasingly addresses the present and the future.”

News via Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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Cite: Tessa Forde. "LA's Natural History Museum to Expand With Transparent "Front Porch" Additions" 28 Oct 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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