In 2008, one of San Francisco's 10 pilot green building projects, the $429 million California Academy of Sciences will reopen in Golden Gate Park. The 410,000-square-foot natural history museum will sport a sustainable redesign by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano.
The facility will attract visitors with both its aquarium—to hold an estimated 10,000 live animals—and its two-acre "living" roof (to see how this works, check out Wal-Mart's green roof in Chicago). Blooming with approximately 1.7 million native plants, the roof is projected to reduce storm water runoff by up to two million gallons of water per year. In addition, a glass canopy surrounding the roof will provide about five percent of the Academy's annual energy needs. Drawn from 60,000 photo voltaic cells, this solar energy is equivalent to saving over 405,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, according to press material.
But what is the best part of Piano's design? It takes advantage of the museum setting, highlighting, rather than hiding, sustainable design elements. Therefore, part of the museum experience is discovering and exploring what the market currently has to offer, when it comes to green construction.
"We are building a new facility that will enable us to explain science in a way that everyone can understand, that brings the public into the process of discovery and exploration, and that I hope will change forever how our visitors see themselves and our world," says Academy executive director and curator Dr. Patrick Kociolek. ::California Academy of Sciences ::Renzo Piano Building Workshop