California Academy of Sciences | The Plan
  1. Home
  2. Magazine 2008
  3. The Plan 030
  4. California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences
By Raymund Ryan -

Rising ever so gently from the lush landscape of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the new California Academy of Sciences is an exquisite achievement by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The Italian architect and his collaborators have recently been extremely successful in the United States, winning several prestigious commissions, often for museums. Yet whereas such projects as the enlargement of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art or the addition of a pavilion for BCAM, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art appear muted by their well-intentioned contextualism, here in San Francisco the Piano team has responded with poetic clarity to the beauty of the site and again constructed a building that should be a model of its type for future generations of museum builders.
The Academy lies across from, and parallel to, the de Young Memorial Museum by Herzog & de Meuron (The Plan, 012). In 1989, both institutions suffered damage in the Loma Prieta earthquake and both decided to rebuild on their historical sites using world-class architects. If Herzog & de Meuron manipulate a striated plan to allow semi-feral vegetation to extend through the linear heart of the art museum, Piano uses the skinniest of steel columns and remarkably clear glass so that views from the park into the institution, and vice versa, are essentially unimpeded. If Herzog & de Meuron abstract the memory of light filtering through the canopy of mature trees to make a contiguous façade of perforated copper, Piano lifts the park surface up into the air and invites visitors into the new undulating undercroft. Truly a flying carpet.
In plan the Academy is a simple rectangle. Its elevation on all four sides has a thin and relatively low parapet supported by the skinny, pale gray columns behind which are walls of exposed concrete, glass and, in the north quadrant, a retained fragment of the old Beaux Arts edifice. The roof of this delicate colonnade...

Proceed with your preferred purchase option to continue reading
Digital

Digital

4.49 €
Print

Print

15.00 €
Subscription

Subscription

From 35.00 €
Keep up with the latest trends in the architecture and design world

© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054