As an urbanized culture, we are rarely conscious of the geological forces that shape the ground we walk(or drive) on. A new masterplan for the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum offers a unique opportunity tonot only heighten awareness of the natural history held underfoot, but also engenders a sense ofresponsibility towards the role humans play in shaping the environment they inherit.
To that end, we imagine Hancock Park as the catalyst for a more synthetic urban growth of Miracle Mile asan alternative to the current piecemeal approach to individual institutions, neighborhood assets,municipal transit, pedestrian circulation, and public spacemaking. Agrid of pathways and landscapes, referencing a field tool commonly used by paleontologists as a locational frame of reference within a digsite, connects the major park elements and extends through the new, elevated LACMA to the siteperiphery, main crosswalks, and neighboring buildings. The flexible grid selectively deforms to linkdiscrete elements in the park and can accommodate future dig sites or asphalt seeps.
Our approach treats the entire site as a perpetual research project to be shared with the public, bothindoors and outdoors. The revitalized park builds on this concept through the element of time. A blendedenvironment of transitional landscapes, or “ecotones,” supports greater biodiversity in the park and fitsinto a broader narrative of a wetter past, a drought prone present, and a much more arid future. The newlyexpanded Page Museum and landscape are symbiotic, exchanging water, energy, and waste resources.
The proposed expansion of the museum takes a “light touch” by reconfiguring what is already there tocreate a more dynamic, integrated building and landscape. The Page expands within its existing footprint: the courtyard is the site for a new, centralized archive block, a floating glass volume encircled by aspiraling ramp that allows visitors to interface with the collection and research labs while it connects asequence of stepped galleries leading up to the Tar Bar. The current bunker-like symmetrical berms arereimagined as a dynamic set of landscaped plates, opening multiple points of entry in an extroverted and
democratic dialogue between the museum, park, and city.