The Franklin Institute broke ground on the first major expansion in more than two decades, a $65 million pavilion meant to broaden the science museum’s educational impact. Located on the south side of the museum, the 53,000-square-foot expansion will be called the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion in recognition of the generous $10 million gift—the largest individual contribution since the museum’s funding in 1824—offered last year by the couple.
According to plans designed by SaylorGregg Architects, the expansion will include an education center featuring integrated learning technologies, classrooms and fully equipped conference center on the first floor; a permanent exhibit on the human brain on the second floor, and a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery on the top floor. A LEED Silver certification is expected shortly after the completion date in summer 2014 in recognition of the project’s sustainable building design and construction. Keeping in line with the architectural features of the original building, the new wing’s exterior will be clad in the same Indiana limestone while incorporating “green” features such as a storm-water drainage system.
The project’s centerpiece will be a permanent exhibit entitled “Your Brain,” where visitors will have the chance to study and understand the human brain’s mechanisms and even get introduced to the basics of neuroscience and psychology. It will occupy 8,500 square feet of space in a gallery named in memory of Frank Baldino, Jr., one of the museum’s benefactors.
Earlier this year the Fraklin Institute selected Skanska USA, one of the largest contractors in the United States, as developer of the ambitious Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the building addition will generate 150,000 hours of work and 125 construction jobs, as well as 20 full-time jobs at the museum.
Illustration courtesy of SaylorGregg Architects website