As one of the oldest science institutions in the country, the California Academy of Sciences thrives at the forefront of scientific research and exploration. With over 26 million specimens, and many artifacts on exhibit, including an indoor rainforest, this world-class museum exists to explore, explain, and protect the natural world.


Midway through a five-year, $500 million renovation when Hot Studio came onboard, the institution worked toward a goal befitting its mission. By project end, the Academy would transform its 400,000-square-foot facility into the world’s largest Platinum Certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure.

On site and on brand
Hot Studio’s role called for a renovation of sorts as well. Challenged with the opportunity to rebrand the Academy and design an interactive experience worthy of its new facility, the team put on their hard hats and got to work. While touring the construction site and the complex building schedule (that wrapped around the room), Hot got its first look into the Academy’s future.

But to design a brand and site for the future, the team first had to understand the current Academy’s past. Who frequents the Academy? What keeps them coming back? How do they interpret the Academy’s mission?  Through extensive interviews and consumer research, Hot Studio got to the heart of the brand experience—what patrons expect, need, and hope from the Academy they love.

Rebrand, remodel, reinvent
Like its stunning new LEED facility, the California Academy of Sciences website bursts with rich architectural elements and organic expressions of nature. A digital extension of the brand experience, it captivates users with brilliant interactive design, video demonstration, and clear, intuitive navigation. Designed with a flexible interface to accommodate changing exhibits, events, and announcements, the new site ushered patrons and the media through closure of the original facility to the grandeur of its rebirth. Most importantly, it reflects the values of this a stalwart institution as scientific pioneer and champion of the natural world.