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Natural History Museum's New Front Yard Opens For Expo

Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Need somewhere to go on the Expo Line when it opens this weekend? How about the new "front yard" at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park--the first two pieces of the museum's North Campus opened "for limited prototype use" last week. The Erika J. Glazer Home Garden has fruit trees, seasonal vegetables, and plants that "attract beneficial garden bugs," according to a press release (visitors and school groups will also be able to do their own planting); the 1913 Garden has "raised planters, mazes of walls and color gardens," to reflect the Beaux Arts architecture of the museum's 1913 building. Eventually the three and a half acre North Campus will include 12 areas and span out to connect with two Expo stops, on the east (USC) and west (Vermont) sides of the museum; the entire area has been been planted and is being left to grow for a June 2013 opening that will coincide with the museum's centennial.

The North Campus was designed by CO Architects and landscape architects Mia Lehrer + Associates. Lehrer (with master planning by Cordell Corporation). Lehrer says "This is a new kind of garden space, an urban ecological laboratory where people can learn and have a better understanding of nature within the city." To that end, plants were chosen to attract a wide variety of species--they include "flora that not only are aesthetically pleasing but offer wildlife places to eat, sleep, give birth and hide." (Birds are already going nuts at the feeders while "hidden cameras are capturing films of opossums, squirrels, birds and owls"!) The campus also includes permeable paths made out of decomposed granite, a seasonal stream, and bioswales for catching stormwater. Planters and beds for the two recently-opened gardens are made out of reclaimed lumber from an old County building and discarded roof tiles.

The overhaul of the North Campus is part of the museum's huge master plan, which includes the renovation of the 1913 building, a whole bunch of new exhibits, the Otis Booth Pavilion entryway, a whale-skeleton-inspired pedestrian bridge, and new parking.
· Natural History Museum's Expo-Adjacent North Campus Opens Soon [Curbed LA]
· Natural History Museum Shows Off its Renovated Beaux-Arts Self [Curbed LA]