California Academy of Science – Living Roof

April 22, 2014 by  
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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

Alcatraz Island

September 11, 2013 by  
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Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco. Often referred to as “The Rock”, the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Alcatraz Island is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony (mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets). Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Library, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House and Officers Club, Parade Grounds, Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building, and the Recreation Yard.

According to a 1971 documentary on the History of Alcatraz, the island measures 1,675 feet (511 m) by 590 feet (180 m) and is 135 feet (41 m) at highest point during mean tide. The total area of the island is reported to be 22 acres (8.9 ha).

Visiting Alcatraz

Today, the island’s facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the island. Hornblower launched the nation’s first hybrid propulsion ferry in 2008, the Hornblower Hybrid, which now serves the island, docking at the Alcatraz Wharf.