California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA

The California Academy of Sciences could be a natural history museum in San Francisco, California. That’s among the biggest museums of explanation within the world, housing over twenty-six million specimens. Also, the Academy began in 1853 as a learned society. And still carries out an oversized quantity of original analysis, with exhibits and education turning into important endeavors of the deposit throughout the twentieth century.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA

California Academy of Sciences

  • Architect: Renzo Piano
  • Built-in: 2005-2008
  • Land Area: 112,000 m2
  • Building Type: Natural History
  • Owner: California Academy of Sciences
  • Number of floors:4
  • Places included: Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Osher rainforest, along with eight scientific research departments
  • Specimens: Over 20 million scientific specimens
  • Major Structural System: Steel
  • Major HVAC system: Radiant Heating/Cooling System
  • Cost: $500 million for a new building after an earthquake


The Academy is found in San Francisco’s strait Park, a three-mile-long inexperienced area that’s presently the fifth most visited public park within the U.S. The building itself includes a robust affiliation to the park, with its inexperienced roof acting as a continuation of strait Park despite the obstruction of the 410,000 sqft building.

Project Background and Design Process of California Academy of Sciences

After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the original twelve structures of the California Academy of Sciences were heavily broken and needed reconstruction. However, the new style planned on victimization primarily recycled materials and restoring three of the initial buildings.

Therefore Renzo Piano Workshop’s style aims to mix nature, science, and folks underneath one living roof. The roofs kind is galvanized by the seven hills of a metropolis, It conjointly encourages natural ventilation and rain recovery whereas the glazing helps with natural lighting and solar power gain.


Evolution could be a central construct of recent science, and intrinsically, promoted by the Academy of Sciences, that acknowledges evolution because of the foundation of understanding of multifariousness and as an origination principle of scientific criticism. On this basis and its dissemination to the overall public, the planning by designer Renzo Piano was awarded the contract of this innovative and altogether organic project, for the most part as a result of the shared idea construct.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
conceptual sketch
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
conceptual sketch

Also, Read Habib University- Design A Learning Community

Climate Analysis and Response of California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco could be temperate to chill climate and usually has winds from the northwest. The mornings are foggy till the ocean breeze blows through and brings within the heat sun. The building uses this wetness to water their massive inexperienced roof whereas capturing the maximum amount of daylight as potential. victimization primarily internal gains, star gains, and natural ventilation, it failed to need far more active heating and particularly cooling

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
climatic analysis


As a public establishment that conjointly homes personal analysis, the California Academy of Sciences has well organized and simply accessible public areas, whereas housing a lot of personal programs far away from the most public circulation, the general public exhibit areas occupy the bulk of the bottom floor and be specific elements of the basement and second floor. the most retail area and restaurant are placed along within the front of the building, invitatory individuals in Most of the executive area is found within the basement or within the back comer of the bottom floor, extending up to occupy most of the higher floors.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA

Circulation of California Academy of Sciences

The main floor acts as an open space with a courtyard and spheres in the center, after entering through large glass walls, people cycle around the central spaces, Vertical articulation to the quantum and roof found at approximate thirds of the building. The museum emphasizes exploration, openness, A free circulation throughout the building

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
massing and circulation


The building aims to include 3 existing buildings a part of the initial California academy of Sciences advanced, these buildings badly broken within the Loma Prieta earthquake and needed reworking. In response to the current, the new structure options unfold footings which permit the building to rock back and forth but, the concrete basement continues these systems going away a lot of the marine museum anchored to the bottom. Also, the roof structure is commanding up by a pre-bent beam and girder grid on columns and concrete shear walls

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA
Structural system

Envelope: Concrete and Glass Facade at California Academy of Sciences

A portion of the current facade reincorporates 3 facades from the initial twelve buildings of the California Academy of Sciences that broken and brought down when the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake The new inexperienced roof symbolically unifies all of the antecedently existing Calif. Academy of Sciences buildings underneath one roof The ne’er parts of the facade fabricated from glass walls (which let in subtle natural daylight and emphasize the affiliation to the outdoors) and concrete slabs that follow an identical panel pattern


Envelope: Living Roof and Photovoltaic Overhang

The living tool is created from six inches of soil that sits on the concrete form. The soil is crucial for the heating and cooling of the inside, acting as natural insulation whereas conjointly preventing stormwater runoff 1,700,000 species of plants were planted on the museum’s inexperienced roof The electrical phenomenon star overhang runs on the surface of the inexperienced roof and contains over 60.000 electrical phenomenon cells, that manufacture concerning sixty fifth of the academy’s annual energy desires

Roof detail

Also, Read Blavantnik School of Government – Forum of Integrity

Thermal And Ventilation Systems at California Academy of Sciences

The mat, slated by thick, cotton batting (from recycled jeans) has various operable openings for natural ventilation. The sweeping roof pulls hot air up and out of the building The courtyard features operation shading while the photos hanger around the perimeter of the building provides permanent shading in order to control solar gains in terms of active systems. PEX tubing in the floor provides both radiant heating and cooling through a hydrating system. Due to San Francisco’s temperate climate cooling is typically unnecessary

Fire Safety

Each of the four concrete sections of the building has 2 sets of egress stairs for those that work the academy. There square measure 2 further egress stairs settled towards the center of the building for Academy guests the overall public All of the egress stairs exit on to the outside of the building aside from the 2 public stairs that take patrons through the fireplace rated lobby before exiting to the outside of the building

Fire Safety

Energy And Daylighting Performance at California Academy of Sciences

The current standard for energy and daylighting performance for a project like the CA Academy of Sciences is an Energy Use Intensity of fifty. This building, because of its combination of living inexperienced roof, production of onsite alternative energy, passive heating cooling methods, and strategically placed natural daylighting opportunities, includes a lot of lower EUI than what’s expected of an urban center deposit. Most museums use an unprecedented quantity of energy on HVAC systems, however, The CA Academy of Sciences is ready to create nice use of an automatic mechanical system and refulgent floor heating, each of that facilitates to dramatically lower the building’s energy use.


The living inexperienced roof additionally plays a serious role in aiding the building’s heating and cooling potency. This building, with its thirty-foot shading overhang, focuses on daylighting whereas collecting little or no direct daylight that might hurt the exhibits. One among the few locations wherever direct daylight is inspired (and required) is that the rain forest exhibit. Wherever circular, operable skylights placed directly on top of the sphere leave maximized daylight.


  • The choice of materials, recycling, the positioning of the spaces with respect to the natural lighting, natural ventilation, water usage, rainwater recovery, and energy production. Also, all of these design issues became an integral part of the project itself. And helped the museum obtain LEED platinum certification
  • a lot of of the input energy comes from star panels on the overhang on top of it. And also a stimulating knowledge of Piano was to use native vegetation for the inexperienced roof, therefore to reduce the consumption of water in irrigation.
  • For the rest, this building consumes between 30 to 35% less energy than required by law.

Also, Read: Renzo Piano: Ecological Innovator

Spaces of California Academy of Sciences

The museum consists of very unique areas:

  • Aquarium
  • Planetarium
  • Rainforest
  • Exhibition Chambers
  • Green Roof


  • The Academy is home to species of northern California and Philippine coral reefs.
  • At 25 feet deep and holding 212,000 gallons of water. The Philippine Coral Reef tank is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world.
  • An elevator can enable the general public to run through and below these large tanks.
  • Home to nearly 40,000 animals, and representing more than 900 separate species.
views of Aquarium

Exhibition Chambers

  • The exhibition halls can have access to some of the roof, so making areas for out of doors Exhibition. It includes exhibits on the evolution of species in Madagascar. And also the Galapagos Islands, and also the effects of global climate change on CA. There’s additionally an area dedicated to Africa.
Exhibition Chambers of California Academy of Sciences
inside of Exhibition Chambers of California Academy of Sciences


  • One of the items most putting is that the large inexperienced roof of concerning one hundred,000 sq. meters. From wherever giant domes rise, indiscriminately additionally lined with inexperienced.
  • These domes square measure giant areas: For example the planetarium or the reserve that homes a Green tropical forest and comes from within the building.
  • 75-foot dome displays one among the foremost correct digital universes ever created.
  • Mimicking the lean of planet earth, the frame of the dome consists of 100% recycled steel
  • It supports a nano steam surface that looks to disappear once lit. Which is making a true-to-life recreation of lambent, faraway house and skies.


  • Inside the dome, a powerful neotropical rain forest stretches ninety feet on top of.
  • Following the spiral path up through the sphere, you’ll encounter three levels of rainforest from three distinct ecosystems: For example a Bornean Forest floor, a Madagascan midstory, and the canopy of a Costa Rican forest.
  • From the canopy, plunge (via elevator) four stories down for a beneath-the-surface view of an Amazonian flooded forest.

Green Roof

  • The complete roof of the building could be an unsmooth space often,000 sq. meters in tribute to the Hills of San Francisco. Which is roofed with1.7 million native plants, will crown a public space Of 112,000 square meters. Therefore this “living roof” serves to keep cool the interior of the building. And at once to collect some 13 million liters of water a year to be re-used, largely by the Museum. It also has 60,000 photovoltaic cells to generate energy and solar panels to produce Hot water. The properties of thermal insulation will reduce the use of air conditioning.
  • The museum has safe spaces for bicycles and parking facilities for recharging electric vehicles.
the roof of California Academy of Sciences

Read Also: Pearl Academy of Fashion- climate-responsive passive habitat

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