The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County have announced that architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi will lead the new master plan for the La Brea Tar Pits.
The 13-acre campus, located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Curson Avenue on the Miracle Mile, is billed as the world's only active paleontological research site in a major urban area. The site includes the famed tar pits, in addition to parkland and the George C. Page Museum.
Weiss/Manfredi will lead a team that includes designer Karin Fong of imaginary forces, Robert Perry of Perry and Associates Collaborative, paleobotanist Carole Gee, artist Mark Dion, and designer Michael Bierut of Pentagram. Architect and Brenda Levin of Levin & Associates and other consultants are also engaged in the process.
The Weiss/Manfredi team was selected over competing teams led by Dorte Mandrup and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
“We are excited to move forward with Marion, Michael, and their remarkable team, as we work toward a more integrated experience of the museum and the landscape in Hancock Park while increasing community access, preserving the site’s iconic features and developing a more sustainable infrastructure for the next 50 years,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums, in a statement. “It was a difficult decision, as all three teams put forth compelling and creative conceptual approaches. But in the end, there was consensus in the feedback we received that Weiss/Manfredi's conceptual approach captured the imaginations of a broad cross section of audiences."
The winning concept, described in an August 2019 presentation as "La Brea Loops and Lenses," calls for a one-kilometer "triple mobius" walking path connecting the Page Museum, the excavation pits, and the iconic lake pit and mastodons. Additionally, plans call for reconfiguring the park layout to make the Page Museum more visible from surrounding streets.
The La Brea Tar pits are just the latest Miracle Mile cultural institution poised to embark on a dramatic makeover. Just west at Fairfax Avenue, work is underway on the $388-million Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is expected to open in 2020.
Early next year, construction is also slated to begin for a dramatic redesign of the LACMA campus - replacing some of its original buildings with a new Wilshire-spanning structure designed by Peter Zumthor.
- Three Design Concepts Unveiled for the La Brea Tar Pits (Urbanize LA)