The La Brea Tar Pits Are Being Renovated and You Can Help Influence the New Design

Concept rendering by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Welcome to Extreme Makeover: La Brea Tar Pits Edition. The world-famous museum and park is on track for a major redesign, with three architectural firms in the running to lead the ambitious overhaul. Models, renderings and drawings are on display at the museum through September 15, and the public is encouraged to give feedback via the Tar Pits official website, where you can see detailed proposals and renderings from three architectural team finalists

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County unveiled the designs at a recent presentation. The organization hopes to more seamlessly integrate the museum with surrounding Hancock Park, and while each rendering accomplishes that goal, they designers take radically different approaches. New York firm WEISS/MANFREDI takes perhaps the most ambitious approach, reimagining the park as a series of intertwining loops that link everything together, ostensibly fostering community and collaboration between researchers, attendees and museum staff. 

Changes like these are overdue. The Tar Pits haven’t been renovated since they opened over 40 years ago, despite their significance to Los Angeles and researchers the world over. A visit to the museum right now is a great and too-rare chance to weigh in on big ticket public item, but also just to appreciate the only active urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. 

The museum is easy to get to by public transportation, though there is a metered parking and paid parking in the area if you want to drive. It’s open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except major holidays. You can buy tickets to the museum, but there are also plenty of free options. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the adjacent Second Home Serpentine Pavilion, a hyper-colorful installation open daily now through November 24.


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