The Most Eco-Friendly Place in the US
There's been a lot of hype in recent years about all things "green". We're all supposed to recycle, reuse, and compost more than ever. That's good. There's also a push to get our new edifices to comply with newly imposed eco-friendly standards, so we don't hurt the environment so much. That's been occuring a lot. A recent institution has recently reopened as one of, if not the most, environmentally-friendly kids on the block - the California Academy of Sciences.
Chronicle Books sent me a book about this called, California Academy of Sciences: Architecture in Harmony with Nature, and it's a feast for the eyes. Located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Academy, which has been a mainstay in the Park for many years, was closed down after the 'quake of 1989. The visionaries of the museum saw an opportunity not only to rebuild the institution better than ever, but to make it blend in with nature in the Park and make it one of the most environmentally-friendly places ever. They did it.
Susan Wels and Greg Farrington have written a book that details how the museum was transformed, from architect Renzo Piano's vision, into a sustainable institution with all of the elaborate exhibits of before - and more.
The book begins with a fascinating history of the Academy and building, then goes into the invention and rebuilding of the "Un-Museum". The resulting product is something that must be seen to believe.
Housed in the museum is Steinhart Aquarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium, a four-story rainforest complete with native animals, the world's deepest interior coral reef ecosystem, diaramas complemented by a virtual safari, and a digital projection using real-time NASA data to send visitors on a tour of the universe. There's even more inside - the book and the museum.
California Academy of Sciences: Architecture in Harmony with Nature also details what went into the building of the museum, including the construction of the "living roof", which sustains the entire edifice.
This book is a must-have for anyone who loves science, nature, architecture, Golden Gate Park, or the Academy of Sciences itself. The museum is open now and the book is available as well.