California Academy of Sciences Donor Wall

The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) is one of the world’s largest museums of natural history. Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it was originally founded in 1853 as a learned society, where volumes of original research continue today. Diverse education and dynamic exhibits have also become part of the museum’s growing legacy.

During the museum’s rebuild in 2007-2008, Fu-Tung Cheng was approached by Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design firms, to consult on the exterior signage for CAS’s new logo and the possibility of creating it in concrete. Knowing Fu-Tung’s passion for artistry and new materials, Pentagram then brought the Cheng team’s focus inside to create a secondary donor wall display that was worthy of the donors and that echoed the museum’s reputation.

The community donor wall features donor names printed on glass mounted on a base of yellow amber-colored concrete. The text floats in front of a sculptural gray concrete wall creating dimension and space. The wall is designed to reflect the Academy itself, spanning from the geologic to the planetary, from earthly to astrological, and is based on the golden ratio that spirals from the ammonite fossil in the upper left.

Embedded stones, fossils, and auto parts along with integral color and fabric-formed and ground areas enhance the look and texture. Sculptural elements also include a topographic view of the Academy roof which represents the seven hills of San Francisco.

Project Scope: Design a secondary donor wall for the California Academy of Sciences
Project Timeframe: 6 months
Location: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA


January 2015
CHENG Design Blog