Museum of Today06 Oct 2009
If you have ever been to a science museum, you know what to expect: wild animals preserved in threatening poses, strange bugs from across the planet and, if you're lucky, some dinosaur bones. Things have changed a bit at the California Academy of Sciences. Last year they completed a major overhaul to their facility in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and transformed it into the greenest museum in the world (LEED Platinum). The usual bugs and bones remain, but the exhibits have been designed to increase visibility and interaction. You can walk through a four-story glass orb that contains the rainforest exhibit, explore the amazing aquarium, stare at the night sky in the planetarium, or watch researchers do their actual work in front of you.
My favorite exhibit is the building itself. It is packed with green features but none are obtrusive. The average visitor may not notice the solar array, computer-controlled natural ventilation, or rainwater collection, but they will definitely notice the result: a beautiful, light-filled, comfortable museum which prompts you to spend the day learning. The grandest green feature it its 2.5 acre green roof which looks like a green carpet floating above the whole museum. Architect Renzo Piano sketched it with one undulating line. From the observation deck you can enjoy an impressive view of the native plantings and species that call the roof their home, as well as the rest of the park and city beyond. I wish my office was up there; it is amazing.More info: Thomas J Carleton Architecture)