Green Roof

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The new California Academy of Sciences building features a contoured, vegetated roof bordered by a cantilevered steel canopy of glazed panels that include more than 55,000 photovoltaic cells. The cells are designed to generate approximately 5 percent of the building’s electricity needs.

Under One Green Roof

emy of Sciences’ new home, which is being referred to as the greenest museum in the world because of its undulating, 2.5 acre (1 ha) vegetated roof and a variety of other environmentally benign features, began with a few sweeping sketches made in green ink. The artist was Renzo Piano, the Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning founder of Renzo Piano Building Workshop, s.r.l., based in Paris and Genoa, Italy. The year was 1999, and Piano was one of several internationally renowned architects whom the academy’s board of trustees had invited to San Francisco to submit proposals for the project. While the other designers had brought along elaborate three-dimensional models of their proposals, Piano “decided to come out a couple of days early and just sketch some ideas,” explains Lawrence Chambers, p.e., an associate in the San Francisco office of the international engineering firm Arup. When the academy ultimately selected Piano’s vision, Arup was chosen to turn the design architect’s rolling green lines into the iconic “living” roof of the academy’s new home, Chambers notes. Arup was also responsible for the structural engineering of the building beneath the vegetated roof, as well C i v i l E n g i n e e r i n g [47]


The new California Academy of Sciences building, in San Francisco, has been called the greenest museum in the world because of its undulating, 2.5 acre (1 ha) vegetated roof, its emphasis on environmental sustainability, and its energysaving technologies. The innovative structure combines a natural history museum, an aquarium, a planetarium, and scientific research operations within one facility. B y R o B e Rt L. R e i d

he design of...
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