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Is Renzo Piano’s Academy of Sciences the greenest museum?

The purpose of the California Academy of Sciences is to study the earth and science. It’s also located in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Pritzker-prize winning architect Renzo Piano built his museum based on these two facts.

“Normally, a museum of natural science is created like a theater, so that you can have the exhibits inside. All museums normally are opaque; they are closed, like a kingdom of darkness, and you are trapped inside. But here you need to know about the connection with nature, so almost anywhere you are in this building you can see through to the outside.”

His completed work has been certified LEED Platinum and is being compared to such iconic museums as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao.

Piano’s vision involved lifting a piece of the park and sliding the museum underneath (according to Vanity Fair’s Matt Tyrnauer). He created one of the world’s largest native living roofs and underneath a building with floor-to-ceiling walls of glass providing not only a visual connection to the park, but natural lighting for the museum.

It’s also a smart museum that doesn’t rely on air conditioning and instead uses weather sensors and a centralized computer to open and close windows and skylights to cool the building with outside air.

In this video, CA Academy of Sciences’ shows us the 197,000-square-foot living roof, extensive solar array, native landscaping, and the smart system of natural air conditioning.