Nearly 10 years and $500 million dollars in the making, it's finally here. The new Academy is a masterpiece in sustainable architecture, blends seamlessly into the park's natural setting, and is filled with hundreds of innovative exhibits and thousands of extraordinary plants and animals.
The Academy is a single structure but contains multiple venues, including the aquarium, the planetarium, the natural history museum and the 4-story rainforest. In addition, there's a 3D theater, a lecture hall, a Naturalist Center, two restaurants, an adjacent garden and aviary, a roof terrace, and an Academy store.
The building also houses the Academy science labs and administrative offices, including an extensive library and scientific archive consisting of nearly 46 million specimens.
The Academy is now the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world, and also the world’s greenest museum. The Academy earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This commitment to sustainability extends to all facets of the facility - from the bike racks and rechargeable vehicle stations outside the building to the radiant sub-floor heating inside the building to the energy-generating solar panels on top of the building!
By any measure, Renzo Piano stands among the world's greatest architects. As the jury awarding him the 1998 Pritzker Prize wrote, “Piano achieves a rare melding of art, architecture, and engineering in a truly remarkable synthesis. He celebrates structure in a perfect union of technology and art.”
“I try to get at the fundamental emotion of a site,” says the architect. The roof design “is like lifting up a piece of the park and putting a building under it.”
"This museum has always worked on three levels - displaying the collection, educating the public, researching the science. The spirit of this new building is to announce and enforce this complexity of function."