California Academy of Science – Living Roof

April 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Attractions

Atop the California Academy of Sciences museum in Golden Gate Park is the literal capstone of Prizkter Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano’s design – the Living Roof. His masterstroke lies in making the park’s environment such a visible part of the building itself. The rooftop’s seven undulating green hillocks pay homage to the iconic topography of San Francisco and blurs the boundary between building and parkland.

Assembling a 197,000-square-foot rooftop to accommodate a living tapestry of native plant species is challenging enough. Add to that the technical problems posed by the roof’s extreme dips and slopes. How to keep the plants and soil from sliding off? Rana Creek, who worked with Piano to design the roof, developed and patented a solution called the BioTray®. They used 50,000 porous, biodegradable trays made from tree sap and coconut husks as containers for the vegetation. These trays line the rooftop like tile, yet enable the roots to grow and interlock, binding the trays together like patchwork.

The Plants

The Living Roof´s 1.7 million native plants were specially chosen to flourish in Golden Gate Park´s climate.
After experimenting with thirty native species, the finalists were all able to self-propagate. These nine species, located inside and outside of the special exhibit, will thrive with little water, resist the salt spray from ocean air, and tolerate wind.

There are four perennial plants: Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris), Sea Pink (Armeria maritima ssp. californica) and Stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium). The other five species are annual wildflowers: Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa), Goldfield (Lasthenia californica), Miniature Lupine (Lupinus nanus), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and California Plantain (Plantago erecta).

The Living Roof is accessible from the third floor of the Academy. There’s also an elevator for those in need.

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA

9:30 am – 5:00 pm
11:00 am – 5:00 pm

8:30 – 9:30 am
10:00 – 11:00 am

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