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Winning Design Chosen For Reimagined, Revamped La Brea Tar Pits

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Say goodbye to the La Brea Tar Pits as you know it -- the museum is about to get a mammoth makeover.

New York-based architectural firm WEISS/MANFREDI will lead the redesign, museum officials announced Wednesday. The decision comes a few months after three preliminary designs were revealed to the public.

The plan, called Loops and Lenses, links adjacent Hancock Park to the Page Museum with a triple mobius walkway, creating three "loops." According to the plan, each loop will have a theme, meant to bridge the prehistoric past into the present and the future. The "lenses" are the views throughout the park, which draw together research and the museum collection.

The new bridge across the La Brea Tar Pits' Lake Pit. (Weiss/Manfredi)
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WEISS/MANFREDI's plan calls for a pair of pedestrian bridges over the Lake Pit, allowing for the famous mammoth statues to stay put. (Another plan under consideration called for removing the structures and putting them in their own exhibit in the museum.)

Other features of the plan include:

  • Expanding the usable space at the Page Museum, allowing for more shade on the lower level and a larger "plateau" level for events and community engagement. The plateau level will also contain a cafe
  • A new Pleistocene garden in the existing museum along with new exhibitions, galleries, labs, and visible storage areas. A centralized lobby would connect the Page Museum with the new exhibition space
  • Play areas for children along the loop, including play logs, a sand pit, a treehouse and a rope net
  • A science walk that includes public view of active excavation site Project 91
  • A drop-off for buses and cars at the northeast corner of the site

You can see a detailed presentation of WEISS/MANFREDI's renovation below:

This firm, based in New York, is focused on combining architecture and landscape. That's reflected in their previous projects including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Museum of the Earth, and the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. They even have a paleobotanist on their team, as well as L.A.-based Emmy Award-winning designer Karin Fong of Imaginary Forces.

A diagram showing the Weiss/Manfredi loops and lenses layout. (Weiss/Manfredi)

Next, the architecture firm will work with the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles, which operates the Tar Pits, to gather public input, form a master plan and oversee design and construction, according to a press release.

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