This new learning and museum facility is the gateway to the redefined McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. It significantly expands the function and programs of the original 9,000 SF Christa McAuliffe Planetarium providing much needed exhibit space and support functions including food concession, gift shop, offices, fabrication shop, and meeting space.
This 34,000 SF addition steps up from single story to a full 2 floors of exhibit space and higher volume exhibit hall. The building’s roofscape is also marked by an observatory accessible from the upper level of the exhibit hall. The central exhibit hall is an open space that opens into side galleries on both levels where supporting installations can be experienced. That main hall was designed and intended to receive large feature objects such as capsules or small aircraft.
With this expansion the building’s main entrance was reoriented to the West. This new “front” door and its visibility from the highway are reinforced by the entrance canopy, glazed gable, and of course the rocket that punctuates the entrance plaza.
The building’s aesthetic was intended to incorporate as much metal as possible reflecting its aerospace theme. The building’s brick base helps to integrate it to the NHTI campus and the attached planetarium while providing a warmer and more durable building skin where it meets the public.
We have worked with the exhibit designers to facilitate their current installations. The building’s infrastructure has been designed for flexibility to meet changing exhibit needs.