Hollywood Local News

Architects unveil new vision for La Brea Tar Pits

LOS ANGELES — Razing, redesigning or overhauling the La Brea Tar Pits were the three ideas being pitched Aug. 27 by separate architecture firms and each has an idea for what to do with the icon mammoth in the property’s Lake Pit.

A plan by New York-based Weiss/Manfredi calls for preserving most of the park’s current architecture while adding a new wing to the northwest portion of the property, where a parking lot currently sits.

The plan would create one continuous experience throughout the park and the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and enhance spaces for community and scientific research and “reveal the La Brea collection to visitors, bringing the museum to the park and the park into the public imagination,” the company said in a statement.

The mammoth would remain in its current location and be a featured attraction in the plan, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The proposal from Danish architecture studio Dorte Mandrup calls for an upgrade of the museum “so the moment you step inside the park you become immersed into the story of the Tar Pits,’ said Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen, founder and creative director of the studio Dorte Mandrup.

The upgrade would include adding a story to the existing structure and incorporating a rooftop garden. The mammoth would not be moved, the Times said.

The third idea, from New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro, calls for razing the current museum and replacing it with a four-story structure that would house exhibitions, labs and collection spaces — and move the mammoth out of the lake and into a gallery in the museum, the paper reported.

“To save it …. but just change the feel and tone of the lake and the surrounding landscape,” Elizabeth Diller, one of DS+R’s founding partners told The Times.

“After embarking on the process to reimagine La Brea Tar Pits earlier this year, we selected three firms with established expertise in integrating public green space with museum collections to help us see the site with fresh eyes,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. “They did not disappoint. These three concepts offer us distinct approaches to consider —all of them are deeply thoughtful, and all have responded fully to our stated goals.”

Renderings of each firms plans will be on display in the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits through Sept. 15 and digital versions of the materials are available at TarPits.org. The public is being asked to provide feedback on each of the proposals at the museum or online.

The National History Museum of Los Angeles County expects to choose one of the plans by the end of the year and the firm selected will “then lead a multi-disciplinary creative team through a public engagement, master planning, design and construction process over the next several years,” the Tar Pits said in a statement. No California firm is in the running.

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County are a public-private partnership with Los Angeles County, which owns the 23 acres of Hancock Park, including the 12-acre parcel managed by the National History Museums of Los Angeles County.“

“La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum are enormously popular and valuable cultural assets for the county, attracting neighbors, school children from across the metropolitan area and visitors from around the world,” county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “The Tar Pits are known everywhere as a visual symbol of the cultural and long natural history of Los Angeles.”