Perkins + Will Completes Shanghai Natural History Museum

Perkins + Will has designed one of the largest natural history museums in China.

Global architecture firm Perkins + Will has finalized work on Shanghai’s new 479,180-square-foot Natural History Museum. Designed by Ralph Johnson, Principal & Design Director in the firm’s Chicago office, it is one of the largest natural history museums in China, featuring more than 10,000 artifacts from around the world.

The new museum is located in the heart of downtown Shanghai within the Jing An Sculpture Park in the Jing An District. The museum replaces the original Shanghai Natural History Museum established in 1956 in the Huangpu District, and features 20 times more exhibition space. According to a news release, the design of the new museum is inspired by the cellular structure of plants and animals.

“The use of cultural references found in traditional Chinese gardens was key to the design,” said Johnson in a news release. “Through its integration with the site, the building represents the harmony of human and nature and is an abstraction of the basic elements of Chinese art and design.”

The museum features an eastern living wall that represents the earth’s vegetation, as well as a northern stone wall showcasing shifting tectonic plates and eroded canyon walls. The building also incorporates a green roof that collects rain water and a courtyard pond that provides evaporative cooling.

The Shanghai Natural History Museum features a 4D theater, an outdoor exhibit garden, as well as a 98-foot tall atrium featuring abundant natural light.

Ralph Johnson is known for his work on the Boeing World Headquarters, The Clare at Water Tower, and the O’Hare International Airport Terminal in Chicago, among others. He is also responsible for designing the Tianjin Museum in China.