California Academy of Sciences



California Academy of Sciences Operable Roof
Closed, from below
California Academy of Sciences Operable Roof
Closed, From front entry
California Academy of Sciences Operable Roof
open-from above
California Academy of Sciences Operable Roof
Closed, from roof top
California Academy of Sciences Operable Roof
Open, from roof top

Retractable Roof

The California Academy of Sciences is a sustainable building located in Golden Gate Park. Its green roof has rolling hills covered with 1.7 million native plants that help keep the building interior cool. A polycarbonate operable roof nestled among the rolling hills allows light into the piazza below while protecting the space from rain and cold. In favorable weather conditions, the retractable roof is opened, turning the piazza into an outdoor area. 

Uni-Systems designed, fabricated and installed the retractable roof, which replaced an existing fabric shade. The new weather-tight panels allow the academy to offer programs and house exhibits in the piazza atrium, making it a more usable space that fits better with with the green building design asthetic.

The roof has two polycarbonate panels that slide along the eight supporting arches and meet in the middle when closed. The panels are driven approximately 6 feet per minute by four 1-hp belt drives, moving between the open and closed positions in approximately 2 minutes, 45 seconds. The fully automatic roof operating system is linked into the building-wide control system with an IPad interface.

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