The La Brea Tar Pits, reimagination of the park and museum
The La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum are sites of exploration and an enduring source of wonder. Our proposed reimagination of the park and museum emerges from a close analysis of what is present, inspiring a commitment to preserve and magnify the park, tar pits, and museum as an ever-changing site of discovery.
The La Brea Loops and Lenses form a triple mobius that links all existing elements of the park to redefine Hancock Park as a continuously unfolding experience, connecting three distinguishing identities that are latent within the park today: Research and Revelation – the site of the excavation pits and Pleistocene Garden, Community and Culture – where the museum and central green are located, and Spectacle and Urban Fictions – where the lake pit and mastodons join the public imagination on Wilshire Boulevard. The different identities of the loops embody journeys, with programming that appeals to diverse interests—from paleontology to bird watching, from science to play.
The new 1-kilometer pedestrian path connects the rich yet disparate existing elements of the site, brings drama to the crossing of the Lake Pit, frames views into the museum, enhances amenities for community engagement and research, and reveals the riches found in the tar pits and museum. As a vibrant public park, active exploration is complemented with lookout platforms along the loop to provide more intimate spaces for refection. Students and curious adults can observe excavation and investigation in action.
The Page Museum rejuvenation and expansion is rooted in analysis of the existing building, preserving and magnifying its unique strengths. The renovation and expansion is conceived as a contemporary Wunderkammer, a treasure chest of stunning fossils and artifacts, both large and microscopic. Like a magnifying glass, exhibition spaces bring artifacts into focus and make visible the museum's treasures to the public.
Framed views throughout the park and museum, bring into alignment the research and museum collection that contains over 3.5 million specimens. As flexible armatures, loops and lenses connect and reveal, forming a continuous journey that tells the story of La Brea Tar Pits and Museum: the continuum from prehistoric time to our contemporary moment. The museum treasures will be revealed to visitors, bringing the museum to the park, and the park into the public imagination.
Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County
Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, design partners
all images created by WEISS/MANFREDI Architects
WEISS/MANFREDI is at the forefront of architectural design practices that are redefining the relationships between landscape, architecture, infrastructure, and art. Named an "Emerging Voice" by the Architectural League, WEISS/MANFREDI has been honored with the New York AIA Gold Medal, the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and most recently, the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture.
The firm has orchestrated various design efforts that require progressive frameworks, placing environmental stewardship at the core of WEISS/MANFREDI's work. These frameworks support the public-facing nature of WEISS/MANFREDI's work, seen in projects like the Seattle Museum of Art's Olympic Sculpture Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, and Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park.
The firm's current projects include Yale University's Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, The Tampa Museum of Art expansion, and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.