Piazza Operable Roof


California Academy of Sciences


Size / Roof: 3,500 SF

Piazza Operable Roof

San Francisco

When the California Academy of Sciences wanted to know if they could install a reliable, high performance operable roof to replace the balky roof over their central piazza, they called Walter P Moore because of our experience with moving roofs. The result is an elegant lightweight polycarbonate panel roof supported by eight stainless steel arches and stabilized by three stainless steel cables. The roof can be opened and closed quickly, quietly, and reliably. Our longtime partners, UNI-Systems provided the mechanization design and tested the panels to confirm their suitability.

The Academy’s new building, designed by Renzo Piano, had opened in 2008 and is a San Francisco landmark. Working with such an important building required sensitivity as well as precise engineering to avoid altering the existing structure and the visitor’s experience of the space. Ari Harding, the academy’s Director of Building Systems, described the process: “We were focused primarily on functionality and the idea that the new roof should fit in so well with the original architecture that the installation would be transparent to our guest experience.”