Comprised of 8,000 square feet of hands-on interior galleries, an adjacent amphitheater, and other outdoor education areas, Noah’s Ark at the Skirball provides a welcoming environment for children and families. The design helps visitors celebrate their own unique identities, explore communal values and gain a positive perspective on cultural differences. The Skirball Cultural Center, which opened to the public in 1996, is dedicated to exploring the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. Alan Maskin led the overall design of the project as well as designed countless animals. Jim Olson led the design of the ark.
Challenging preconceptions about what children’s museums “should” be, the team developed an exhibit design that favored clarity over chaos, utilized a wide spectrum of colors and natural materials, and employed a hierarchy of vertical scales. We abandoned written text in favor of a completely interactive exhibit that incorporates the leadership of docents of all ages.
Approximately fifteen pairs of animals are kinetic—puppets brought to life by visitors and staff. The design of the ark draws on the same philosophy we use in our residential houses—using natural materials, creating a simple layout, expressing a skeletal structure, and “exploding the box” to visually extend space.
Our team collaborated with fabricators to design and create 186 pairs of handcrafted animals. Many animals are designed from re-purposed and found objects such as bottle caps, bicycle parts, baseball mitts, croquet balls, mop heads and rear-view mirrors.
AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Citation Award
AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Merit Award
American Association of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Awards, Honorable Mention
Los Angeles Architectural Awards, Honorable Mention
TEA Thea Awards, Award for Outstanding Achievement
“Noah’s Ark at the Skirball.” Oasis: The Magazine of the Skirball Cultural Center, 2008. Print.
“Noah’s Ark, a new permanent exhibit at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center.” AZURE, June 2007, 52. Print.
“Noah’s Ark at the Skirball,” Residential Architect, June 2007. Print.
Vadino, Diane. “Animal Magnetism, a new Noah’s Ark is floated in Los Angeles.” I.D. Magazine, May 2007, 24. Print.
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