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SAN FRANCISCO-The California Academy of Sciences has unveiled plans this week for a new facility that will house the combined aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum under one roof.

Academy officials said the estimated $370 million project would provide the academy, the oldest scientific institution in the West, with a seismically sound, environmentally friendly, accessible new home on the same site that it has occupied in Golden Gate Park since 1916.

The project cost includes relocation to a temporary facility in 2004 for more than 400 researchers and 16 million specimens. The new building is expected to open in 2008, if all goes according to plan.

The design by award-winning architect Renzo Piano unveiled on Wednesday includes a multi-level rainforest exhibit, a 20-foot deep, 225,000 gallon living Philippine coral reef habitat, flexible integrated exhibition spaces and an undulating “living” roof that will be covered with native plants.

The new facility will have more floor space than the current complex of 12 structures, but have a smaller “footprint” and blend into the environment.

Executive Director and Curator Patrick Kociolek says Piano’s design added a “humanistic vision” to the project.

“He has masterfully combined sustainable architecture and innovative design with sensitivity to Golden Gate Park that bespeaks the academy’s commitment to environmental responsibility,” Kociolek says.

City officials must approve the design plans.

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