the renzo piano designed california academy of sciences

opens the 27th of september.   the building is gorgeous.    and more ammunition for the piano-is-the-best-museum-architect-in-the-world argument.

it’s a $488 million “renovation” that essentially tucks the 400,000 square foot research and exhibition facility under an undulating 2 1/2 acre meadow of plants native within a 25-mile radius of the park.     the building houses a planetarium, aquarium and a spherical (rain forest) biosphere.    it heats/cools/ventilates itself and recycled 100% of the materials from the demolition of the old (earthquake damaged) building.

retaining the facade of the original academy appeased san francisco’s  perpetually problematic “preservationists.”

photovoltaic cells in the steel and glass sun screen:

the installing the biosphere –  photograph by richard barnes:

the academy of sciences could rival my all-time favorite museum design — piano’s  menil collection in houston — and his elegant  morgan library expansion…