Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego moves iconic tree in La Jolla

Now here's a sight La Jolla doesn't see every day.

La Jolla residents rushed to their decks and nearby streets on Wednesday, Aug. 21, to watch a tree get moved 15 feet.

It wasn’t just any tree but the Norfolk Island Pine at the center of some controversy since the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) announced plans to expand its 7000 Prospect St. campus in 2015.

The tree, planted at the museum’s southwest corner sometime in the 1980s, proved too close to where the western-most side of the new wing would be built. So the original plans were to remove it — until neighbors complained and members of the La Jolla Development Permit Review committee recommended relocating the tree or altering that corner of the proposed building.

The museum responded with plans to move the tree about two car lengths to the southeast. And so, workers spent about a week painstakingly boxing the roots and securing ropes to the pine’s branches before a crane hoisted it toward four posts that guided it gently down into a concrete encasement.

The whole operation took about 20 minutes.

The museum’s $95 million latest expansion will add 49,444 square feet, resulting in a 105,014-square-foot facility. Ground was broken in October 2018 with completion expected in 2021.