California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco, CA

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A New Plan for A Prominent Museum

The garden master plan is divided into an east and west and underscores the Academy’s commitment to exploration, explanation and appreciation for the ecological diversity that surrounds us. A grove of existing cypress trees and a curving hillside create a sense of enclosure in the East Garden, formalizing areas for gathering, presentations, and outdoor exhibits. With openness and exposure to sunshine, the West Garden embraces the element of play. A grove of native Manzanita shrubs and stone landforms creates a kid-sized, immersive environment. CMG’s improvements to the museum’s entry plaza include custom designed and fabricated benches of stainless steel and ironwood, granite cobble paving infill, and new planting that replaced an existing lawn with mixed shrub and perennial plantings, organized in bands defined by distinct Mediterranean regions.

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The East Garden amphitheater will provide a space for Academy presentations or impromptu picnicking. Built along the far side of the amphitheater, a sculpted wood garden exhibits blooming mushrooms, telling the story of how microscopic cells, mycelium, recycle carbon and nitrogen while decomposing plant and animal debris in the creation of rich new soil in our forests. The Manzanita ramble runs along the length of the West Garden. A grove of native Manzanita shrubs and a sculptural stone landform creates a kid-sized, immersive environment. The Skyleidoscope Pavement Inlay exhibit subtly calls attention to our relationship to the sun as the glass changes color depending on the direction of the sunlight and the viewer’s perspective.

Throughout its history, California Academy of Sciences has been an institutional pioneer in engaging and educating the public about the wonder and importance of the astounding ecological diversity that surrounds us. Through interactive programming, thoughtful exhibitions, and transformative environments, the Academy has become a paragon of science education both locally and internationally. Building on this legacy, CMG underscores the Academy’s commitment to the importance of dynamic and innovative design.