Perched upon a promontory overlooking Lake Michigan, Adler Planetarium's newly refurbished Cafe Galileo's affords visitors expansive views of the Chicago skyline amid newly refurbished finishes, furnishings and lighting.

The design team took particular care executing an interior entry sign constructed of black curved millwork and wrapped in bands of stainless steel and polished copper. Bands of LED backlighting embrace the entire color spectrum.

A high-definition television embedded in the sign allows the planetarium and cafe to advertise or to present video programming when it is swung toward seating and reception spaces. Surrounding LED lighting reflects on glass-bead plaster finishes, creating a notable effect during dimly lighted events.

During the day, the sign's copper and aluminum surfaces glimmer, while at night the glowing programmable color scheme, in a pattern based loosely on shooting stars, draws views from vehicles on Chicago's museum campus and Lake Shore Drive.

In addition to new couches and chairs, refurbished spaces feature carpet tile in place of broadloom carpet for easier maintenance and rectangular tables in place of circular ones for better grouping.

Elsewhere, custom-designed "space tables" showcase images of the nebula in the constellation Scorpius, while the edges of the tables reveal that it is 420 light-years from earth.

Team members negotiated numerous challenges during a tight six-week timetable, including the rerouting of MEP systems and coordination of trades in highly confined spaces, all while maintaining cafe operations throughout renovations.

Much of the work was performed during off hours. Carpeting, for instance, was installed overnight. To promote public safety, crews surrounded work areas with a 12-ft-high temporary wall and cleaned the entire site on a daily basis.

Team members credit budgeting strategies, preconstruction planning and continual communication between the client, architect and contractor with creating a venue that provides planetarium visitors with a memorable cafe experience.

Cafe Galileo's, Chicago

Key Players

Owner Food For Thought, Lincolnwood, Ill.

GC Ernie Loberg Construction Co., Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Designer Legat Architects Inc., Chicago

MEP Engineer Advance Consulting Group International, Chicago