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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Selects Steven Holl as Architect of Major New Museum Pr

Tue July 09, 2002 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

In a unanimous decision, the Architectural Selection Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County announced today the selection of world-renowned architect Steven Holl to partner with the museum on a multiyear, multiphase project that will combine new construction with portions of its historically significant structures, including the complete restoration and seismic retrofit of the Museum’s original 1913 Beaux-Arts-inspired building.

Upon completion, the new museum will redefine the Natural History Museum for the 21st Century by integrating natural and cultural history through dynamic new installations and innovative programming. The new Natural History Museum will remain a cornerstone of Exposition Park in the heart of Los Angeles and a major contributor to the architectural, scientific, and cultural landscape of the city and county.

Completion of the Master Plan for the new museum is projected for 2003, with the unveiling of the schematic design slated for 2004. Groundbreaking for the estimated $200-300 million project will begin in 2006, with a projected first-phase completion date of 2009. All phases of the process will include consultation with stakeholders in the local and regional community.

The new Museum project proposes the reconstruction of the existing 410,000-sq.-ft. building, including selective replacement of portions of the structure, renovation of remaining historic portions, and the preservation of the nationally registered original 1913 Museum building. The design is intended to optimize accessibility to the museum’s expansive and diverse collections second in size only to the Smithsonian Institution and research resources that include more than 33 million specimens and artifacts covering millennia of human history and 4.5 billion years of Earth history. In addition, 80,000 sq. ft. of offsite facilities will be relocated to the Museum’s 14-acre site in Exposition Park. A Los Angeles-based executive architect will be selected over the next several months. An exhibition designer will be announced shortly thereafter.

The museum and Holl will work together to formulate an approach to the new Natural History Museum, to be fully developed and refined over the next several years, which will creatively integrate the institution’s past with its future. The design will create new exhibition and programming space that takes full advantage of contemporary technologies while also addressing serious seismic issues, and replacing aging and inadequate facilities.

Holl’s ability complements the Museum’s ambitious goal of creating a new model for natural and cultural history museums while achieving a number of design objectives. These include reconnecting historic Exposition Park to its urban context, melding historic with contemporary architecture, showcasing sustainable design principles, integrating interior and exterior spaces to inspire connections between individuals and the community, and creating landmark architecture befitting a city that is one of the world’s premier destinations.

Exposition Park

The new Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will be the architectural and cultural cornerstone of historic Exposition Park -- the 160-acre public recreation area located just south of Downtown. The Park is also the home of the California Science Center, the California African-American Museum, the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Exposition Park Intergenerational Center, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and the 15-acre Rose Garden. The Park borders the campus of the University of Southern California on its northern edge and is surrounded on the other three sides by diverse residential communities.

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership created a master plan for the redevelopment of the Exposition Park in 1992. During the past 10 years more than $450 million has been committed to fund various projects that contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the area. Projects include the recently reopened Frank Gehry-designed Air and Space Gallery of the California Science Center and architect Thom Mayne’s conversion of the Exposition Park Armory into a K-5 elementary school and center for science learning for the LAUSD and California Science Center.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Founded in 1913, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the largest museum of natural and cultural history in the western United States. The museum’s world-class research and collections programs center on objects and specimens relating to 21 disciplines, including history, anthropology, mineral sciences, invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology and botany. The museum’s unique mission combines cultural and natural history to allow for in-depth exploration of the relationships between humankind and the environment.

The museum’s 130,000 sq. ft. of public galleries -- which include halls devoted to gems and minerals, extant and extinct mammals, dinosaurs, birds, marine life, Native American and pre-Columbian cultures and U.S. and Southwest history -- and its innovative on- and off-site educational programs serve more than 750,000 students, families and adults each year.

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