The $300 million project to move San Francisco's historic Exploratorium from the Palace of Fine Arts, and recreate it at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero at the heart of the waterfront, has been confirmed for Wednesday, April 17, 2013.
Leslie Patterson, spokesperson for the museum, told me the project is on schedule and more than 90 % complete, with museum employees moved into the new facility and construction workers wrapping up last-minute punch list items.
Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis M. Bartels said in a recent press release that the "scale of our new home on Pier 15 will not only allow us to welcome a magnitude of new visitors, but also broaden our impact around the world by developing new experiences that make science accessible to all."
Designed by San Francisco-based EHDD Architecture and being built by San Francisco-based Nibbi Brothers, the new Exploratorium will sit on nine acres near the landmark Ferry Building and feature 422,166 sq-ft of indoor and outdoor space, including 1.5 acres of public outdoor space. The project will open with 600 exhibits, 25 % of which will be brand new installations.
Construction at the previously dormant stretch of the San Francisco’s historic Embarcadero waterfront represents the first major, permanent development on the waterfront in more than a decade since the construction of the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark. Officials say it is aiming for LEED Gold, and has the potential to be the largest net-zero energy museum in the U.S., if not the world.
Sustainable design highlights begin with the use of the original 1915 pier building’s natural lighting and filtered San Francisco Bay water for cooling and heating. The new museum is projected to use 57% less energy than a comparable building, and save approximately $160,000 in energy costs annually.
Other green features include high performance glass to limit heat gain, the use of low-emitting materials and materials with recycled content, and a 1.3-megawatt high efficiency SunPower solar power system on the roof of the new structure. The system is designed to ultimately generate 100 percent of the electricity demand for the facility. System performance, updated every 15 minutes, will be displayed in the lobby of the new facility.
Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO says no other solar panel on the market today can achieve the same results within the new Exploratorium's limited roof area.
The project's HVAC system takes advantages of the museum’s waterfront location by circulating bay water through two titanium heat exchangers. The bay water ﬂuctuates between 50°F and 66°F seasonally and is used as a heat source and heat sink to efﬁciently produce hot and chilled water for the building’s radiant slab. This also eliminated the need for cooling towers.
The history of the Exploratorium began more than 40 years ago when famous physicist Dr. Frank Oppenheimer opened the facility at the Palace of Fine Arts (PFA) on the San Francisco Marina. Since then, the Exploratorium became a respected space for science discovery. In 2006, officials decided to move the facility to Piers 15 and 17, and in November 2010, ground was broken on the project.
The project is being developed in two phases. Once work on Pier 15 is complete, Pier 17 will be used for future expansion. For more information on the new Exploratorium, visit: www.exploratorium.edu/piers.