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article imageMuseum makes history by planting gardens in the parking lot

By Stephanie Dearing     Apr 26, 2010 in Environment
Los Angeles - The Los Angeles Natural History Museum had once paved over a piece of natural paradise, er, agricultural fair grounds, putting in a parking lot. Now the Museum is saying goodbye to all that.
It's not every day you find an organization happily ripping up a parking lot with the idea of putting in a garden. The idea is so contrary to modern cultural behaviour, it is radical. And yet this garden is not being put in by radicals or non-conformists. This little piece of reconstructed nature is being put in by a very esteemed organization that is thinking and behaving many years ahead of the rest of the pack.
Located smack in the middle of one of the largest cities in North America, the new grounds will be a breath of fresh air to smog-ridden Los Angeles. There will still be parking at the front of the Museum, and even the parking has been re-visioned. The parking lot will now be comprised of a two story building that incorporates a living canopy among its environmentally friendly features.
The Natural History Museum gave the Los Angeles Times an exclusive story last week, prior to announcing the project on Earth Day. The former parking lot will be turned into 3.5 acres of naturalized gardens with eleven themed sections. The grounds are being redeveloped to complement the original Museum building, the historic 1913 Building.
Themes for garden areas include a pollinator garden, a pond, transition gardens, an intriguingly-named "shadow zone," and a get dirty area. The outdoor garden areas will also be used as Museum exhibit areas.
Dr. Jane Pisaon, President and Director of the Natural History Museum said “The public has already seen a glimpse of our future in our new exhibitions the Thomas the T. rex Lab and Visible Vault. But the magnitude of the coming change is only now becoming apparent, as we complete the architectural work on our gem in Exposition Park, the 1913 Building. Soon this lovingly restored treasure will be alive with compelling new experiences, as we continue the Museum’s great contributions to the scientific and cultural landscape of Los Angeles.”
The idea to put in the gardens came about approximately ten years ago. when the Museum began to do some long needed work on the existing buildings in order to update them and preserve architectural features. The grounds were "re-imagined" in the process. The new landscaping will be completed for July 2011.
The project is estimated to cost $30 million. The Museum is fund raising $20 million, having received a grant from Los Angeles Country for $10 million. The make-over of the building renovations is to be done for the Museum's 100th anniversary in 2013.
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