L.A. Natural History Museum’s North Campus to Get New Glass Entry

Thanks to a $13-million gift from The Otis Booth Foundation, the Natural History Museum (NHM) of Los Angeles County is going forward with a light-filled, three-story entrance pavilion designed by Los Angeles-based CO Architects. The new, glass-walled Otis Booth Pavilion will exhibit one of the museum’s signature holdings, a 63-foot-long fin whale skeleton, and will serve as a beacon to greet those visiting the museum.

“The goal of the Otis Booth Pavilion design is for the north face of the Natural History Museum to be as transparent as possible to visually offer the museum’s collections to the people,” says Fabian Kremkus, AIA, LEED AP, associate principal at CO Architects, and senior designer on the NHM project. The Otis Booth Pavilion is named to honor the late museum benefactor and board member, whose surviving foundation is funding the new entrance.

Rising over terraces, gardens, walkways, and common areas, a soaring pedestrian bridge that goes through the Otis Booth Pavilion transports visitors from a promenade connected to Exposition Boulevard. The glass pavilion’s ground level below enables a visual and physical flow of the interior and exterior. The Otis Booth Pavilion is scheduled for completion by November 2013, in time for the Natural History Museum’s 100th anniversary.

The signature structure features a structurally glazed curtainwall with vertical suspension rods and horizontal knife plates. The frameless structure and glass size are being used for minimal visual impact on the exhibition designs. East and west sides will have a receding ceramic frit pattern on the glass to mitigate solar heat gain. The four-foot-deep ceiling structure bevels inward to allow for transparent corners. A radiant slab at ground level conducts heating and cooling.

The Otis Booth Pavilion is part of the new North Campus at NHM, designed by CO Architects with Mia Lehrer + Associates, and overseen by Don Webb of the Cordell Corporation. CO Architects has a long history with NHM, having last year completed the renovation and seismic upgrade of the museum’s 1913 Building.