new york-based architecture firm weiss/manfredi has been selected ahead of diller scofidio + renfro and dorte mandrup to overhaul the site of the la brea tar pits in los angeles. the winning team will work with the natural history museums of los angeles county (NHMLAC) on a multi-year process of public engagement, masterplanning, design and construction at the tar pits’ 13-acre campus, which encompasses the world’s only active paleontological research site in a major urban area, its asphalt seeps, surrounding parkland, and the george c. page museum building.

weiss manfredi la brea
‘la brea loops and lenses’ conceptual approach links all existing elements of the park
image courtesy of weiss / manfredi architects



weiss/manfredi’s winning proposal, titled ‘la brea loops and lenses’, seeks to redefine hancock park and the page museum as one continuous experience. the intertwining loops link all the existing site components, enhancing spaces for community and scientific research, while 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.

weiss manfredi la brea
the conceptual approach features a bridge across the lake pit at la brea tar pits
image courtesy of weiss / manfredi architects



‘there is truly no place in the world as magical as la brea tar pits,’ marion weiss and michael manfredi, principals at weiss/manfredi. ‘we and our team are deeply honored and grateful for this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to reveal the multiple identities of the tar pits, the museum, and hancock park. our ‘loops and lenses’ concept creates new connections between the museum and the park, between science and culture, and envisions the entire site as an unfolding place of discovery. we are thrilled to begin work with dr. bettison-varga and NHMLAC to rejuvenate the tar pits and the museum and carry them into the future and into the public imagination.’

weiss/manfredi selected to overhaul the la brea tar pits in los angeles
the lake pit at la brea tar pits features fiberglass mammals
image courtesy of la brea tar pits



weiss/manfredi’s multidisciplinary team includes: los angeles-based experiential designer karin fong of imaginary forces; horticulturalist and nationally recognized expert in water conservation and california ecology, robert perry of perry and associates collaborative; los angeles native and la brea-educated paleobotanist carole gee; naturalist and artist mark dion; and designer michael bierut of pentagram. the team will be augmented by los angeles-based consultants, including architect and historic preservation advocate brenda levin of levin & associates. a range of additional los angeles-based consultants will also be engaged in the masterplanning and subsequent project implementation phases. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

weiss/manfredi selected to overhaul the la brea tar pits in los angeles
the lake pit at la brea tar pits with wilshire boulevard in the background
image courtesy of la brea tar pits



project info:


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


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