Three Concepts Unveiled for La Brea Tar Pits Masterplan in Los Angeles

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) have unveiled three new concepts for a master plan of the La Brea Tar Pits. The proposals were designed to improve the entire 12-acre site, which has not been renovated or considered comprehensively since it opened more than forty years ago. The three proposals were made by Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and WEISS/MANFREDI. The concepts aim to create a more integrated experience of the museum and the landscape in Hancock Park.

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The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County are a public / private partnership with the County of Los Angeles, which owns the 23 acres of Hancock Park, including the 12-acre parcel managed by NHMLAC. The new proposals are made to increase community access, preserve the site’s iconic features, and develop a more sustainable infrastructure. NHMLAC President and Director Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga said that, "After embarking on the process to reimagine La Brea Tar Pits earlier this year, we selected three firms with established expertise in integrating public green space with museum collections to help us see the site with fresh eyes. They did not disappoint. These three concepts offer us distinct approaches to consider—all of them are deeply thoughtful, and all have responded fully to our stated goals: We want to preserve and enhance community use of Hancock Park while making the collection more visible to the public, showing science in action, and adding to our visitor amenities."

In March 2019, NHMLAC asked a select, international group of architecture firms to assemble teams of landscape architects, scientists, engineers, designers and artists to begin to reimagine La Brea Tar Pits. The three finalist teams participated in a special “ideas incubator” held in June 2019 during which more than seventy leading figures from the fields of science, the arts, design, entertainment, education, technology, communications, philanthropy, and government gathered for a day of open-ended discussion. These discussions helped to inform the varied creative approaches unveiled by NHMLAC at a community event where principals from the three firms gave public presentations about their approaches.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

"As an urbanized culture, we are rarely conscious of the geological forces that shape the ground we walk (and drive) on. A new masterplan for the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum offers a unique opportunity to not only heighten awareness of the natural history held underfoot, but also to engender a sense of responsibility towards the role humans play in shaping the environment they inherit,” said Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “A revitalized Hancock Park is conceived to be the connective tissue between existing and new institutions, public spaces, and urban infrastructure. We have taken a ‘light touch’ approach for the next evolution of the Page Museum, infilling underutilized spaces and reconfiguring what is already there to create a more dynamic and efficient hybrid structure that is both building and landscape."

Dorte Mandrup

Courtesy of Dorte Mandrup
Courtesy of Dorte Mandrup

“For the residents of Los Angeles, Hancock Park and the Page Museum are nostalgic places that bring back memories,” said Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen, Founder and Creative Director of the studio Dorte Mandrup. "We will cherish and build on this, as we open up and extend the park and museum to become one big living laboratory. Our proposal interweaves the park and museum, so the moment you step inside the park you become immersed into the story of the Tar Pits. A visit here should be a journey of curiosity, where senses and imagination are instantly awakened. Our hope is that this will bring visitors much closer to the world of natural science, and in turn heighten their understanding of the past, present and future of our planet."



"WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal, ‘La Brea Loops and Lenses,’ redefines Hancock Park and the Page Museum as one continuous experience,” said Founders and Principals Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. “The intertwining loops link all the existing site components, enhancing spaces for community and scientific research. The lenses, as framed views throughout the park and museum, reveal the La Brea collection to visitors, bringing the museum to the park, and the park into the public imagination. We are excited to reimagine La Brea and are committed to amplifying this enduring Los Angeles landmark to serve a vibrant community.”

Displays prepared by the three teams will be on public view in the museum at La Brea Tar Pits through September 15, with materials including models, renderings and drawings. Digital versions of the materials can be found on The public is encouraged to provide feedback onsite or online. Based on its own review of these concepts, input from the jury, and the public’s feedback, NHMLAC expects to choose one firm by the end of December 2019. The firm will then lead a multi-disciplinary creative team through a public engagement, master planning, design and construction process over the next several years.

News via NHMLAC

About this author
Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Three Concepts Unveiled for La Brea Tar Pits Masterplan in Los Angeles " 27 Aug 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884



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