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Natural History Museum Expansion Moving

On March 31, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved the LA County Natural History Museum’s (NHM) Commons Project. The effort – the second large-scale project JAMA has participated in for the institution – will provide an anchor for the institution and neighboring Exposition Park. JAMA’s first project for NHM was a decade-long expansion and renovation completed just before the Museum’s centennial in 2013, so to participate in it’s continuing growth is exciting for the team.  

The Commons project encompasses 50,000 square feet of renovated space in the existing Unit 2 building, 32,700 square feet of new construction in a 2-story West Wing Expansion Building, and landscaping, all on the southwest side of its Exposition Park home. The transformative project is designed to offer an inviting, transparent “front porch” to campus, create a free welcome center, deliver a new state-of-the-art theater and multipurpose space alongside increased exhibition spaces, and expand NHM’s broad-based programming.

Structurally the project has posed interesting challenges and opportunities. The West Wing expansion, which houses a 366-seat theater and creates new integrated passageways between the new and old, required column-free floor areas and 21’-23’ floor-to-floor heights. 40” deep structural steel beams spanning 70 feet and steel moment frames with viscous dampers achieved both design requirements. Additionally, a standalone one-story café in the expansion will accommodate a green roof.