KNOWLTON.WORK celebrates student work from the 2019-2020 academic year at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University.

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Karen Lewis
The 2019 Gui Studio project invited students to reconsider the design of the existing La Brea Tar Pits Museum and its adjacent landscape. Los Angeles is home to the largest working oil field in the United States, and the history of local oil exploitation is linked to this cultural landscape. Invited proposals for the new La Brea Museum and grounds have resulted in the selection of a proposal by Weiss Manfredi.

Rancho La Brea (“the tar ranch”) with muchos pantanos de brea (many bogs of tar) was first recorded by Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola in 1769. Settlers had been using asphalt from this site since prehistoric times, but its collection of fossils were not identified until the end of the 19th -Century. In 1952, the first museum to be located in LA’s 23-acre Hancock Park, The La Brea Observation Pit, was opened to reveal the phenomena of Pleistocene era animal and plant species preserved in asphalt. The exhibition allowed viewers to see materials as they were discovered in the ground while archeologists worked on site. Page Hall, built in 1977, expanded this exhibit of the world’s richest deposit of Ice Age fossils. Saber tooth tigers, ground sloths and Columbian mammoths are among over 600 species found here, almost all of which are now extinct. Dotted across the park landscape, visitors witness a series of in situ natural scientific wonders located in the heart of one of the largest US cities. As the only active Pleistocene dig site in the world, this site is a National Natural Monument belonging to the LA County Museum of Natural History.

The La Brea Tar Pit Museum faces 15-mile long Wilshire Boulevard, one of Los Angeles’ major thoroughfares, known as Miracle Mile. Also found along Wilshire are the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Motion Picture Museum, Bruce Goff’s Japanese Pavilion, Renzo Piano’s 2006 museum, and Chris Burden’s “Urban Light.”  Peter Zumthor’s new LACMA museum will float over the park and cross Wilshire Blvd. It has recently begun construction.

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