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Architect's Vision: Science, Art and Landscape Converge at Exploratorium's New Location

Architect's Vision: Science, Art and Landscape Converge at Exploratorium's New Location

Statement from EHDD’s Marc L’Italien, Design Principal 

Marc L'Italien of EHDD, principal design architect for the Exploratorium at Pier 15The new home of the Exploratorium is where architecture, art, science and site converge.  It elevates the Exploratorium's mission as both a destination for experiential exhibits and an R&D facility that creates innovative ways to teach and learn.

Visibility, public access, and flexibility drove the planning and design. Situated midway between Ferry Plaza and Pier 39, the new Exploratorium brings to life a previously dormant stretch of the San Francisco's historic Embarcadero waterfront.

The complexity of the program – to design an ultra-flexible building to support an ever-changing array of exhibits in keeping with the Exploratorium's culture of inquiry – was matched by the challenge of rehabilitating an existing historic structure in the most energy efficient manner possible. To that end, the building takes advantage of the original pier building's natural lighting and the water of the bay for cooling, and uses materials that are both sustainable and durable enough to withstand a harsh maritime climate. The goal is for the Exploratorium to be the country's largest net zero energy museum. This, combined with the Exploratorium's reputation as a hub of innovation, will make the building an industry model for what's possible in energy efficiency.

The Fisher Bay Observatory building is an elegant two-story steel pavilion at the east end of Pier 15 that contains an open plaza and pays homage to the clean lines of Pier 15, yet stands out with its taut façade. Using fritted glass to mitigate heat gain and reduce bird strikes, the building will house the SEAGLASS Restaurant and the ticketed Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery. The Fisher Bay Observatory will undoubtedly become a destination, from which visitors can see open water, maritime traffic, Treasure Island and the Bay Bridge, wildlife, hills, and other elements, both natural and human-made.

A promenade encircling Pier 15 enables free interactive outdoor exhibits, captivating the general public and passers-by with the direct experience of the surrounding bay and the city.  Almost three times larger than its previous location at the Palace of Fine Arts, the new site enables the Exploratorium to dream big and to keep reinventing itself in unimaginable ways as it expands its programming. – Marc L’Italien, 2013

Go back to Exploratorium @ Pier 15 Press Kit table of contents

About the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium’s museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.

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