DS+R, dorte mandrup, and weiss/manfredi unveil proposals for LA's la brea tar pits

DS+R, dorte mandrup, and weiss/manfredi unveil proposals for LA's la brea tar pits

diller scofidio + renfro (DS+R), dorte mandrup, and weiss/manfredi have each presented conceptual approaches to overhaul the site of the la brea tar pits in los angeles. the varied proposals are seen as early contributions to improve the entire 12-acre site, which has not been renovated since it opened more than 40 years ago. the concepts envision a more integrated experience of the museum its surrounding landscape, which is currently home to selgascano’s 2015 serpentine pavilion and will soon be neighbored by peter zumthor’s new LACMA building. the selected masterplan will also increase community access, while preserving the site’s features and developing a more sustainable infrastructure.

diller scofidio + renfro — publicly accessible dig site supported by mobile ‘dig rig’
image © diller scofidio + renfro (also main image)



the asphalt seeps at la brea tar pits are the only consistently active and urban ice age excavation site in the world. this makes the site a unique window into active science — where fossils are discovered, prepared, researched, and displayed in one place. outside, visitors can watch excavators unearth fossils of the wildlife trapped in the seeps. in march 2019, the natural history museums of los angeles county asked three multidisciplinary teams, each led by renowned architectural firms, to re-imagine la brea tar pits.

diller scofidio + renfro — museum lobby anchored by hovering collection archive
image © diller scofidio + renfro



displays prepared by the three teams will be on view in the site’s museum through september 15, 2019 with the public encouraged to provide feedback. based on the institution’s own review of these concepts, input from a diverse jury, and the public feedback, one of the three teams is expected to be chosen by the end of december 2019. this firm will then lead a multi-disciplinary creative team through a public engagement, master planning, design and construction process over the next several years. read more on each of the proposals below.

diller scofidio + renfro — masterplan (click to expand)
image © diller scofidio + renfro



‘as an urbanized culture, we are rarely conscious of the geological forces that shape the ground we walk (and drive) on,’ says diller scofidio + renfro. ‘a new masterplan for the la brea tar pits and page museum offers a unique opportunity to not only heighten awareness of the natural history held underfoot, but also to engender a sense of responsibility towards the role humans play in shaping the environment they inherit. a revitalized hancock park is conceived to be the connective tissue between existing and new institutions, public spaces, and urban infrastructure. we have taken a ‘light touch’ approach for the next evolution of the page museum, infilling underutilized spaces and reconfiguring what is already there to create a more dynamic and efficient hybrid structure that is both building and landscape.’

dorte mandrup — intertwining exhibition and research
image © dorte mandrup / martha schwartz partners



‘for the residents of los angeles, hancock park and the page museum are nostalgic places that bring back memories,’ explains dorte mandrup-poulsen, founder and creative director of dorte mandrup. ‘we will cherish and build on this, as we open up and extend the park and museum to become one big living laboratory. our proposal interweaves the park and museum, so the moment you step inside the park you become immersed into the story of the tar pits. a visit here should be a journey of curiosity, where senses and imagination are instantly awakened. our hope is that this will bring visitors much closer to the world of natural science, and in turn heighten their understanding of the past, present and future of our planet.’

dorte mandrup — pleistocene walks guides and connects
image © dorte mandrup / martha schwartz partners



weiss/manfredi’s proposal, ‘la brea loops and lenses’, redefines hancock park and the page museum as one continuous experience,’ comments founders and principals marion weiss and michael manfredi. ‘the intertwining loops link all the existing site components, enhancing spaces for community and scientific research. the lenses, as framed views throughout the park and museum, reveal the la brea collection to visitors, bringing the museum to the park, and the park into the public imagination. we are excited to reimagine la brea and are committed to amplifying this enduring los angeles landmark to serve a vibrant community.’

dorte mandrup — inside the world of natural science
image © mir

dorte mandrup –masterplan (click to expand)
image © dorte mandrup / martha schwartz partners

weiss/manfredi — reveal the collection
image © weiss/manfredi

weiss/manfredi — science walk
image © weiss/manfredi

weiss/manfredi — labs and exhibition
image © weiss/manfredi

weiss/manfredi — masterplan (click to expand)
image © weiss/manfredi



project info:


name: la brea tar pits masterplan
location: los angeles, CA
client: natural history museums of los angeles county


diller scofidio + renfro project team —
masterplanning & design: diller scofidio + renfro
landscape: hood design studio
ecology: rana creek
structural engineering: nabih youssef associates
mechanical, fire, civil, & geotechnical engineering: arup
sustainability: transsolar
lighting: tillotson design associates
wayfinding: 2×4
museum storage: schwartz/silver architects
code & building assessment: land office
cost assessment: dharam


dortemandrup project team —
dorte mandrup
(copenhagen, denmark)
martha schwartz partners
(new york, USA)
(los angeles, USA)
gruen associates
(los angeles, USA)
(copenhagen, denmark)


weiss/manfredi project team —
architect & site design: weiss/manfredi architecture/landscape/urbanism
design partners: michael a. manfredi, FAIA and marion weiss, FAIA
artist and naturalist: mark dion
paleobotanist: dr. carole gee
experiential design: karin fong
brand identity: michael bierut
principals: patrick armacost and todd hoehn
architects: andrew ruggles, RA, and lily wong
landscape architects: michael steiner, ASLA, and robert perry, ASLA

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