The transformation of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is scheduled to be finished in July 2011, just about the time trains for the under-construction Expo Line start pulling up to the nearby USC and Vermont stops. The museum announced plans this morning for a major overhaul, courtesy of CO Architects and landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates. Under the North Campus plan, the parking lots on the campus's north side and the space in front of the 1913 building on the west side will be turned into a 3.5-acre, $30-million park, a green space that'll offer interactive outdoor exhibits and a pedestrian bridge. The grounds will be contoured to dip eight feet down, creating a new entrance to a former basement level, while the pedestrian bridge will stretch from the sidewalk to the first floor. CO Architects' senior designer for the project, Fabian Kremkus, tells Curbed the bridge is inspired both by the museum's huge fin whale skeleton and his native Frisian Islands, where whale jaws were put up to memorialize dead whaling captains.
The North Campus will also have an entrance plaza open to the public, a living wall, a garden dedicated to Los Angeles's history (Spanish Olive trees, Mexican Fan Palms), a garden to attract butterflies and bees, a food garden, an area for native plants, and a Get Dirty Zone, where kids can play with bugs and generally make a mess of themselves.
A "stramphitheater" combines stairs, ramps, and an amphitheater to serve as a seating area and performance or class space. The museum wants the North Campus to be a field station for locals to observe the urban biodiversity (did you know Exposition Park has about 159 species of birds?).
A new two level parking structure is under construction to replace the old lots. And CO Architects' work on the original 1913 building and its rotunda will be finished this July.
· Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County [Official Site]