2. Layer x La Brea

Autumn 2019
Instructor | Kay Bea Jones
Partner | Andrew King

site oblique


Oil extraction primarily catalyzed the urban growth of Los Angeles in the early Twentieth Century. A figure amidst this historical record was petroleum industrialist George Hancock, who, in 1924, ceased to drill into a 23-acre parcel of land. What lay underneath were the remnants of an Ice Age ecology: fossilized remains of the Pleistocene. Recognizing the scientific importance of fossils found in the asphaltic deposits, Hancock decided to donate the
Ranch to LA County with the stipulation that a public park be preserved and the fossils exhibited.

The project reconsiders the existing La Brea Tar Pits Museum and surrounding site. Sectionally, the design choreographs both the subterranean route of oil excavation and the ultimate discovery of a prehistoric collection.

first floor

second floor

third floor

fourth floor

fifth floor

sixth floor

To accommodate the disparate constituencies of visitor and worker, each elevational space is formally and programmatically distinct: theaters and classrooms are carved from the rock layer, exhibit spaces emerge from the gas layer, and a specimen storage laboratory seeps from the anticline folds of an oil layer.

This organization requires an accessible and continuous vertical procession to pass through each floor. Thus, the circulation—wrapping outward for the non-museum-going public and undulating inward for museum-goers—connects these horizontal divisions and simulates the theatrics of mining.

section perspective

southwest elevation

southeast elevation