Friday, December 1, 2023

New Exploratorium Location on San Francisco’s Historic Waterfront On Target for 2013 Opening

Courtesy ZUM

Editor’s note: A few years ago, another major San Francisco cultural institution – California Academy of Sciences – underwent a complete re-imagining, rebuilding and triumphant opening – followed by continued success. Read about it here.

San Francisco, CA (March 6, 2012) /BUSINESS WIRE/ — The Exploratorium, the innovative museum of science, art and human perception, announced today that its new location on historic Piers 15 and 17 at the heart of San Francisco’s waterfront is more than 60 percent complete and on schedule for its targeted spring 2013 debut. The Exploratorium also announced that more than $230 million of the targeted $300 million has been raised to date in support of the project, which will radically improve public access to the Exploratorium and surrounding waterfront space for visitors from all over the region and the world.

“The Exploratorium unleashed a bold revolution when it was founded in 1969 by noted physicist, educator and visionary Frank Oppenheimer–leaving both the classroom and the museum field changed forever,“ said Dennis Bartels, PhD, Executive Director of the Exploratorium. “It broke the mold for public learning institutions when it introduced people to science by examining how they see, hear, feel the world. Our new urban location on the waterfront enables the Exploratorium to grow its mission as a global leader in science education. For visitors, this means more opportunities to actively engage in their own discoveries and shape their own worlds.”

Designed and led by San Francisco’s EHDD Architecture, the Piers 15/17 project is the first major, permanent development on the waterfront in more than a decade since the construction of the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark and has the potential to be the largest net-zero energy museum in the U.S., if not the world. The project is being developed in two phases, beginning with Pier 15 and offering future expansion into Pier 17.

Several important construction milestones at Pier 15 have been reached:

  • The complex seismic retrofit and preservation of the existing piers, substructure and historic pier shed. One engineering feat in the process was cleaving the bulkhead entry from the shed, which stretches 820 feet over the Bay-–the equivalent of a New York City block.
  • The completion of the exterior of the Bay Observatory Building, the only new structure on the site: a mostly glass, two-story building offering direct views of the urban and marine environments, mediated by complementary exhibits.
  • The removal of the parking lot between Piers 15 and 17, exposing the bay and remnant pilings-–potential platforms for future experimentation. A short pedestrian bridge was installed, spanning the narrow east end of this central waterway connecting the aprons of Piers 15 and 17. By June 2012, a longer pedestrian bridge across the exposed waterway will be finished, eventually enabling the general public to circumnavigate Pier 15.

“With the revitalization of the San Francisco waterfront as a tremendous priority for the City, the relocation and expansion of the Exploratorium to historic Piers 15/17 on the Embarcadero is an important example of job creation and public-private partnerships benefitting local residents and global visitors,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “This is a landmark project for the City and the Port of San Francisco that will benefit San Francisco families, tourism and those who love science and the environment for generations to come.”

The new Exploratorium will open up 330,000 square feet of space for the institution, housing new and familiar quintessential Exploratorium exhibits in four galleries; space for professional teacher development, after-school programs, educational camps and lifelong learning; a theater; a multimedia lab; exhibit-design services for museums around the world; the Exploratorium store; a café and bay view restaurant; and an Outdoor Exploratorium. Also outside, visitors can access 1.5 acres of free, open civic space, which will include new displays.

The Exploratorium will remain open to the public at its current location at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts through January 3, 2013. 

See more articles from IPM about museums and museum exhibit design at this link.

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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