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Natural History Museum Nature Garden
Water Features Pay Tribute to the Diverse Landscapes of Los Angeles


At the Natural History Museum Nature Garden in Los Angeles a two-and-a-half-foot waterfall cascades over a stone ledge into a 54,000-gallon pond. The grotto-like setting offers some protection for the turtle inhabitants from predators and the heat. The pond is from 18 inches deep to 4.5 feet deep. An in-pond biological filter and nutrient removal mechanical filter maintain clear water. A UV disinfection system is used in lieu of chemical treatments because of the turtles and minnow-like Arroyo chubs.


The pond transitions to a 175-sq. ft. wet pad area with three polished granite jetties. Children and adults can cool their feet in the quarter-inch deep waster. About 4,000 gallons of water flow over the flat Lithocrete architectural concrete surface. Controllers automatically deliver the appropriate levels of pool chemicals, a UV system disinfects the water and sand filtration keeps the water clean.

PACE Advanced Water Engineering provided engineering design services as part of the Mia Lehrer+Associates team for two water features within the new Nature Garden at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. The museum is just north of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum; Exposition Park and the California Science Center are adjacent to the museum on the east side.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is a 3.5-acre living laboratory of urban biodiversity. This outdoor exhibit functions as a representation of water systems found in Los Angeles County--natural streams and lakes, and the concrete channelized urban rivers and drainage corridors.

The 4,500-sq. ft. pond was designed to appear naturally occurring. Making it a habitat for turtles enhances that effect. Flat boulders and a two-and-a-half-foot tall waterfall cascading into the pond from a grotto sitting along the water's edge provide protection for the turtles from predators and heat. The pond's stone block shoreline creates a natural appearance within the oasis setting. The pond holds 54,000 gallons and has a depth from 18 inches up to 4.5 feet. Two filtration systems, including an in-pond biological filter and a nutrient removal mechanical filter maintain crystal clear water and keep the turtle's environment clean. An ultraviolet disinfection system also ensures the pond does not require any chemical treatment that could threaten the turtles.

The pond transitions to a formal concrete canal feature connected by a dry gulch, all which simulate the Los Angeles River form and structures. This canal leads to a 175-square foot fountain play area for children holding 4,000 gallons of water. The water depth is only a quarter inch. The water originates on a trough at the top of the structure's slab, which remains wet even through benches within the feature. Water flows over three polished granite jetties and a flat LithoCrete tabletop. Water quality is maintained by controllers which automate delivery of appropriate and minimal levels of chemicals, as well as chlorination, UV systems for disinfection, sand filtration and acid injection for pH control.

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July 16, 2018, 7:39 am PDT

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Last Updated 07-16-18
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