Founded in San Francisco in the year 1853, the Institute of Natural Sciences and natural history museum, California Academy of Sciences became a prominent institute in the US, where both the public and research interventions went hand in hand. With 2.5 living acres of green roof inhibiting native Californian species, the building became one of the top ten to get a LEED Platinum Certificate. (Fracalossi, 2008)
Just like they say, an end is a new beginning. This cluster of 11 academic buildings was destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The previous buildings were clustered around a courtyard, of which three were saved using the adaptive reuse method, while the new buildings occupied the same positions as the old ones. When the African Hall, the North American Hall, and the Steinhart Aquarium got conserved, the combining exhibition space, education, conservation, and research came under one roof; the academic zone also incorporated a natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium. The functioning of the whole building carries out around the courtyard while it is the entrance lobby and pivotal centre to the collections, making it multifunctional. (Fracalossi, 2008)
Inspired by the Seven major hills of California, Renzo Piano, with his knowledge in bionics, made the living green roof come into action. The roof is flat at the perimeter with 1,700,000 selected autochthonous plants planted in specially conceived biodegradable coconut-fibre containers. It forms its patterns away from the roof planes. Domes covered with several automated ventilation skylights cover the planetarium and rainforest exhibitions separately. (pls4e, 2019)
These two main domes sit on the 37.000 sq. m complex lifted 10 m above the ground. The domes are 27.43 m high and free-standing, and the glass-covered central court, with 183 square meters, contains many exhibition spaces in between. The moisturised soil above the domes cools the museum and ground floor public areas while the façade cools the research office, making the ground air condition free. With the ‘Urban Island Effect’ the interior of the building is 10 degrees cooler than the outside. (designboom, 2021)
The green roof makes the building a carbon dioxide–oxygen converter with an entire rolling roof structure made from curved steel beams above which concrete roofs are loaded. The Indoor Rainforest covering the central square area with glass seemed difficult. However, gently curving the roof with a dual network of frames, horizontal braces, and triangular glass surfaces became a multi-faceted structure. The indoor creek, enlivened by a reed raft model, leads to the central indoor rainforest. A ramp leads visitors upward from the base of the glass-domed structure on a smooth procession through the horizontally striated microhabitats of Frank Lloyd Wright, who first introduced the ramp-as-artistic experience. It has a circular ramp that makes it easy for the visitor and takes them slowly to the green roof, making it programmatically efficient. (designboom, 2021)
Several ventilation drivers in the facade by D+H, mostly in hard-to-reach windows, were connected to the control centre to react to internal and external climate data. Around the year, the visual aesthetic of the roof space changes along with the seasons, while the vibrancy remains on point. The individual plants bloom and fall constantly. The huge central piazza below the glassed roof allows the entry of cool air at night to flow into the building. Between two glass lies Photovoltaic cells that form the transparent canopy around the perimeter of the green roof, providing more than 5% of the electricity required by the museum. The use of recycled material was assessed alongside the approximately 34 per cent savings in energy usage through natural ventilation systems, heat recovery, and shade. In short, the building becomes a major example of sustainability: (Paracelsus, 2008)
90% of all demolition materials were
From excavating the old buildings, 32,000 tons of sand were found and were used for restoration.
11 million pounds (5,000 t) is 95% of all steel from recycled sources
constructed of over 20,000 cubic yards (15,000 m3) that are 15% fly ash (a recycled coal by-product), 35% slag in concrete
50% of lumber harvested from sustainable-yield forests
68% of insulation comes from recycled blue jeans
Only 10% of artificial light and ventilation are used in office spaces.
60,000 photovoltaic cells; 213,000 kilowatt-hours (designboom, 2021)
30% less energy consumption than the federal code requirement
Produces 50 per cent less waste water than previously
Supports 1.0 hectares of green roof
Wall insulation made from scraps of recycled denim. (pls4e, 2019)
With over 1.5 million visitors over the year, the number of teachers and students is tripling, making it a hotspot for field trips among the curious generation. With life and its sustainability playing hand in hand, the building became an adobe of excitement for people of all ages, making it one of the best Scientific and Cultural Institute based in San Francisco. (designboom, 2021)
Reference: California Academy of Sciences
designboom, nina azzarello I. (2021) Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences, designboom. designboom. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/renzo-pianos-california-academy-of-science/ (Accessed: April 22, 2023).
Fracalossi, I. (2008) California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop + Stantec Architecture, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/6810/california-academy-of-sciences-renzo-piano (Accessed: April 22, 2023).
pls4e (2019) California Academy of Sciences, SAH ARCHIPEDIA. SAH ARCHIPEDIA. Available at: https://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/CA-01-075-0030 (Accessed: April 22, 2023).
01_Aerial View of California academy of Science_©Tom Vox Swa group_httpsimages.adsttc.commediaimages5721d4b1e58ece4601000005slideshowsfr__530.jpg1461834897
02_Site Plan of California academy of science_©httpsimages.adsttc.commediaimages5721cbbae58ece2dec000001slideshowsfr__111.jpg1461832620
03__Section of California Academy of Sciences_©httpsimages.adsttc.commediaimages5721cc33e58ece2dec000005slideshowsfr__085.jpg1461832749
04_detailed view of dome_©Tim Grifith_httpsimages.adsttc.commediaimages5721cec7e58ece2dec000007slideshowsfr__399.jpg1461833398
05_Front view of California Academy of Science_©Shunji Ishida_httpsimages.adsttc.commediaimages5721d46ce58ece4601000004slideshowsfr__464.jpg1461834835