Planning Commission OKs plan to expand Carnegie Science Center
October 5, 2016 12:00 AM
Indovina Associates Architects
Artist rendering of a new $21 million Science Pavilion on the east side of the Carnegie Science Center.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The city Planning Commission approved a proposed three-story expansion of the Carnegie Science Center and alteration of its parking lots Tuesday.
The expansion would add 48,000 square feet of classroom, conference and exhibition space onto the eastern side of the center on the North Shore.
Co-director Ron Baillie said the expansion will allow the center to accept more students to summer camps and put Pittsburgh on the radar of large, national traveling exhibits.
The projected cost is $21 million and construction is expected to begin this autumn. Completion is expected in May 2018, said Ben Kelley, development manager for Oxford Development.
“We have 700,000 visitors each year, more than 90,000 of whom are students, and that’s where we feel the squeeze,” Mr. Baillie said. “Our summer camps are filled by February.”
The addition will add nine classrooms and learning labs with direct access to the Allegheny River.
The second floor will be built to Smithsonian standards for national exhibitions and the third floor will be used for meetings and special events.
A landscaping design to catch stormwater off the building will provide opportunities to teach students about stormwater management, and the cafe will be expanded with an outdoor patio, said architect Ryan Indovina.
The main parking lot will hold 450 vehicles and be surrounded by trees and other landscaping. A secondary lot on the center’s western side, with 123 spaces, will be used mostly for school buses.
A 75-year-old telescope that was relocated to storage from the Buhl Planetarium when the planetarium was transformed into the Children’s Museum will not be part of the expansion. Although the city secured a memorandum of understanding with the science center in 2002 that the telescope would one day be on exhibit, Mr. Baillie said the MOU had no time limit and that the telescope is too large and obsolete for the purposes of the science center today.
Mr. Baillie said the science center will continue to store and maintain it for the city.
Glenn Walsh served as astronomical observatory coordinator at the Buhl Planetarium from 1986 to 1991. He asked the planning commission “to seek clarification ... on how the science center will keep its legal commitment to the city” to reuse the telescope.
Diana Nelson Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626.
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