Bayer MaterialScience LLC
Bayer MaterialScience LLC

Polycarbonate Sheeting from Bayer MaterialScience LLC Maximizes Aesthetics and Protection, Minimizes Support Structure for Living Roof

Pittsburgh, PA, January 26, 2015 --( Located in the picturesque Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences wears many hats, serving as a natural history museum, planetarium, leading-edge scientific center, educational facility and more. Not to be outdone by its surroundings, the building itself is a work of art designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano. The latest addition to the building is a clamshell roof.

The original roof design used a retractable fabric screen system to allow for ventilation and natural light for the piazza space below. The fabric successfully met those needs, but did not provide sufficient protection from the elements. To maximize aesthetics, minimize structural costs and protect against nature, the design was changed to a clear operable roof that would seemingly “disappear” when closed and require minimal structural support. The new design required a clear material with long-lasting weathering performance and extreme strength for earthquake resistance.

Makrolon® 15 polycarbonate sheet from Bayer MaterialScience LLC was selected for the retractable panels in the California Academy of Sciences’ new living roof design. Polycarbonate sheet was chosen over glass because it required fewer structural stainless steel supports – providing aesthetic and cost benefits. Additionally, the polycarbonate’s high break resistance allowed for increased overhead safety, especially important in this earthquake-prone zone.

“We worked with the California Academy of Sciences, suggesting the material and specific grade for its living roof,” said Kenneth Schwartz, marketing manager – Construction, Polycarbonates North America, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. “Makrolon® 15 polycarbonate’s light weight, combined with the clarity, UV protection, and weather and scratch resistance, made it an ideal material for this application.”

According to Kevin Manalili, director of building operations, California Academy of Sciences, “Bayer’s material stood out from the competition thanks to its advanced coating technology, which provides superior UV resistance compared with other polycarbonate sheets. The Makrolon® sheet is performing well and meeting our high expectations.”

The piazza atrium’s retractable roof is made of two 18-by-48-foot sections. Each section consists of six panels supported by eight 66-foot-long rectangular tubes that arch up eight feet at the center and span across the roof opening. When closed, the two panels meet at the center of the arched tubes with an edge flap providing a weather-tight seal between them. When open, the panels rest on the sides of the roof opening.

This functionality enables the open-air piazza to be a key contributor to the climate control on the main floor, as the Academy uses no mechanical heating or cooling for the space. With the ability to close the roof during inclement weather, the piazza can be used year-round, while still enjoying the benefits of daylighting and reducing the need for artificial lighting.

By utilizing Makrolon® 15 polycarbonate sheet, visitors can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and the benefits of daylighting, fresh air and a comfortable environment, as well as the many treasures housed within the building.

About Bayer MaterialScience LLC:
Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with approximately 14,300 employees at 30 production sites around the world and 2013 sales of 11.2 billion euros. Bayer MaterialScience, a Bayer Group company, manufactures high-tech polymer materials and develops innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries. Sustainability is central to Bayer MaterialScience LLC’s business and is based around the key areas of innovation, product stewardship, social responsibility and respect for the environment.

About California Academy of Sciences:
The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring and explaining the natural world and addressing the challenge of sustainability. Based in San Francisco, it is home to an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum as well as innovative scientific research and education programs – all under one living roof. This unique combination allows visitors to explore the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the Universe in a single day. Along the way, thousands of charismatic live animals and a team of fascinating scientists and presenters bring the Academy’s exhibits and shows to life and make each visit unique. The Academy is also home to nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world – essential tools for comparative studies on the history and future of life on Earth.

The Academy earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for its eco-friendly design and operations, making it the world’s first Double Platinum museum—and the largest Double Platinum building in the world. The Academy received its first LEED Platinum rating in the "New Construction" category—covering the design and construction process—and its second in the "Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance" category, certifying that our day-to-day operations and practices meet the highest standards of sustainability.
Bayer MaterialScience LLC
Cindy Race
For more information about Bayer MaterialScience's Makrolon® polycarbonate sheet, call 1-800-628-5084 or visit

For more information about California Academy of Sciences, call 415-379-8000, email or visit