Nature and Nurture
BY Clay Doyle
April 06 2009 12:00 AM ET
A field of native California plants rolls across a plain of undulating hills -- hovering high above the ground in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Supported largely by glass walls, the green roof is only the most surprising of the many striking features of internationally renowned architect Renzo Piano's new building for the venerable California Academy of Sciences.
The CAS, which houses research and educational facilities and a vast collection of scientific specimens as well as the Kimball Natural History Museum, the Steinhart Aquarium, and the Morrison Planetarium, formerly comprised 13 structures built in Golden Gate Park over the course of the 20th century. The park location was chosen after the academy, founded in 1853, lost its stately 1891 Market Street building and most of its collection to San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires.