Since it opened its doors in 1969, the Exploratorium, which features a mix of science, engineering and art exhibits, has been one of San Francisco's top museums. The museum has outgrown its current location in the Palace of Fine Arts building in the city's Marina District, so today it unveiled plans to move into a sparkling new facility at Pier 15! In the spirit of scientific exploration and discovery, the new museum, which is being designed EHDD Architecture and GLS Landscape Architecture, will push the limits of sustainable building by aiming for net-zero energy.
The Exploratorium is a museum of “science, art and human perception” that features hands-on, interactive exhibits. It was the first of its kind when it opened in 1969, and it has had a wide-ranging influence on science museums around the world. So it makes sense that the new Exploratorium will be on the cutting edge of green design. The new 330,000-square-foot Exploratorium will be located in a gut-renovated pier on San Francisco’s waterfront.
GLS Landscape Architecture is overseeing the exterior spaces at the new location. A large parking lot and loading dock will be removed, making 2 acres of outdoor space accessible to the public and available to the museum for outdoor exhibits, which will focus on natural phenomena, like wind, fog, and tides.
The roof of the new facility will be topped with 5,874 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels that will help to offset the museum’s energy needs. The architects at EHDD have also partnered with a team of engineers to develop an innovative “Bay Water Heating and Cooling System”, which pumps water from the San Francisco Bay through a heat exchanger to heat and cool the building.
Large exhibit spaces inside the buildings will take advantage of daylight, reducing the need for artificial light and energy during the day. Recycled materials, high-performance glass and certified sustainable wood will also be used in the construction. The water-efficient building will also feature waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures, and water collected from roof runoff will also be reused for toilet flushing.
“This project combines an effort to both innovate and think critically about the impact science can have on the world. Our net-zero goal is, in part, a way to reduce our global footprint and help improve the community we’ve been a part of for more than 40 years,” said Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis Bartels in a statement. “Net-zero is a process – and an opportunity for the public to learn with us.”