Natural History Museum of LA County

“What I find thrilling about the Natural History Museum is the way it serves as a focal point for the diverse communities that gather there, and as an intersection between these communities and the museum’s activities.” – Fred Fisher

Guided by in-depth conversations with museum leadership and staff, our project design combines NHM’s value of transparency and community connection with contextual sensitivity, improved functionality and flexibility, and an aesthetic of inspiration. An underutilized portion of NHM’s west end will be replaced with an iconic two-story and basement addition that houses a welcome center, an immersive multi-purpose theater, cafe, shop, and gallery support facilities.

A new double-height entry point on the museum’s southwest corner offers easy indoor/outdoor flow between the theater and Exposition Park’s South Lawn. From this entrance and lobby, people access NHM’s exhibit spaces by way of a new Welcome Center, a porch-like ticketing and orientation space that invites both visitors and the community feel at home in the museum environment.
To fulfill NHM’s wish to increase public accessibility through physical and psychological openness, our addition is clad in a glass façade. Varying between transparency, translucency, this material strategy is a direct expression of the museum’s “inside-out” identity.

To further NHM’s capacity to serve as a hub for public engagement, the whole thing is capped by a grab-and-go café, and outdoor event space. By day and by night, the building will act as a vibrant beacon for LA’s diverse communities to come together.