Los Angeles, United States 2002


PROGRAM: permanent and temporary exhibition space, research and collection, educational facilities, exhibition gardens
CLIENT: Natural History Museum of LA County
  • SIZE: 80,000 sq ft
STATUS: competition

Rhizome (root-like) is the basis for the new system of linkages which can be entered at any point in any order. The new building opens up the existing museum with multiple connections to the surrounding park and city. Inscribed in a 420' X 420' square a "rhizomatic" architectural ordering with a topographical landscaped roof expresses an open-ended, non-linear new museum order. Research, education, and exhibition programs are located in an open envelope with multiple circulation routes and maximum flexibility. An open tower emerges from the new rhizomatic envelope symbolizing "observation of life on earth with research offices, a public observation deck / café and a special meeting room.”Spiracle Courts" occur at node points in the building, sometimes working as outdoor gardens with micro-climate respiration benefits to the HVAC systems energy saving aspects. The museum's mission "to inspire wonder and discovery" would be uniquely embodied in a new architectural extension fusing landscape, urbanism, and architecture.


  • architect
    • – Steven Holl Architects
    • Steven Holl ( design architect )
    • Chris McVoy ( partner in charge )
    • Olaf Schmidt ( project architect )
    • Makram El-Kadi ( project architect )
    • Tim Bade, Noah Yaffe, Masao Akiyoshi, Mohammed Ziad Jamaleddine (project team)