Passing by the construction site of our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, it may still be hard to imagine what it will feel like to be on the inside. Grimshaw, the architectural firm responsible for our new facility, has built a 3D model of part of the new Museum to help us imagine just that. It’s a little bit like the greatest dollhouse or model castle ever, because you can actually be one of those little figures inside of it one day soon. That figure on the dance floor could be you, generating energy for the Museum. That could be you looking up from below into a 500,000 gallon Gulf Stream tank. Or maybe that’s you, walking in the entrance, looking around in amazement at all the Museum has to offer. Just imagine for now, and then come experience it for yourself!
The saying goes, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” We hope that we will not have an extreme hurricane event in south Florida, but we do need to be prepared for it, just in case. Florida building codes require that buildings within a hurricane zone be tested for structural wind resistance. At the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science construction site, we just completed an “impact test” on one of our window walls. Imagine the extreme force of a hurricane, not to mention hurricane-related debris, and you might wonder how we simulate that.
Here’s the “before” picture of the wall…
Because many of the new museum’s structural systems are custom-made, samples of parts of the building are built at an offsite location and subjected to the forces that the building might see during an actual hurricane event. There are multiple major tests conducted, including something called the “Large Missile Impact Test” (which sounds exciting but intimidating all at once). This test is meant to determine that the structure is sufficiently resistant to windborne debris (as defined by the Building Code for maintaining the envelope of the building).
To run this test, an 8 foot Southern Pine 2” x 4” beam, weighing 9 pounds, is shot from an air cannon at a speed of 50 feet per second (with resulting damage not to code-allowed tolerances). Check out what that test really looked like in action in the video clip below, to see the “after” picture!
Stay tuned for more tests of the Living Core building walls scheduled for mid-January!
The title says it all. We are officially now the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science! Even though we are still in the current Miami Science Museum facility that we have all known and loved for decades, our new, state-of-the-art Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is under construction downtown and due to open in 2015. We are building on what we do best, literally, in the construction of the new facility, as well as figuratively, in all of the innovative ways we make science and technology inspiring to everyone.
So be on the lookout for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, because we are now in more than one place at the same time!
The plaza area for our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will be a land of infinite possibilities, as well as a graceful meeting of form and function. Located between our museum and the Perez Art Museum Miami, planters with native trees, plants, and flowers will provide a place to lounge and relax during your exciting museum visit, or just enjoy the weather and the view out over the park and water. It will also be a place to hold spectacular special events and programs – day or evening, weekday or weekend. Even the planters themselves – their placement, distribution, and the soil, plants, and flowers within each one, represent a recreation of some of the natural features of the beautiful south Florida environment.
The plaza is taking shape, and you can begin to more easily imagine yourself there, taking in the view, or being there for an exciting special event. To help you imagine, here is what’s happening on the plaza now, along with some fascinating facts about what we’re creating.
The planters are arranged in “a perfect grid with a thousand possibilities,” meaning that the arrangement within each planter on the grid is unique.
The design of the planters are such that you can sit and talk with others, or lounge and relax.
The planters are irrigated from a rain collection cistern.
Each planter weighs up to 28,000 pounds – and that’s before soil and plants are added.
The soil composition in each planter (called the “soil profile horizon”) recreates the natural environment of the plants in that planter – sandy layer on the bottom (to aid drainage), the horticulture layer, or root layer, in the middle, and the organic soil with nutrients on the top.
The planters closest to the water will have grasses and perennials that flutter in the ocean breeze and bloom purple, blue, or white. The next row of planters will be more jungle-like, with philodendrons of large green and purple leaves. Bromeliads of bright pink, green, or purple are in the next row. And nearest the garage on the ground floor will be shade-loving ferns.
Where would you like to be?
Every day we get closer to the opening of our Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Things are always happening at the construction site, with constant changes big and small. You can even see what it looks like today, as you’re reading this blog. Here are a few close-up photos that take you past sleek entryways, the sphere of the planetarium, and the outdoor plaza with the angled wall of the future “Living Core” aquarium feature. Below that, you can “zoom out” to see the live image of the construction site, which is updated every 15 minutes. Stay tuned!
Special thanks to Marina Blue Condos
for hosting our construction camera:
Construction Time-lapse Updated 10-29-2013
It takes lots of really creative, smart, hard-working people to create an engaging, interactive museum exhibit experience. But that includes more people than our Museum staff. Professional evaluators help us understand how to achieve maximum impact in our exhibits, and we also need you, our visitors and our community, to give us feedback on prototypes of our planned future exhibits. This process, and everyone involved, will help make our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science the most fantastic science museum possible. Even now, we are excited to see prototype exhibits at our current Museum (as in the photo above). One of our evaluators from Randi Korn & Associates, was inspired to write this blog entry below (also posted on the Intentional Museum) about how her experience here impacted her.
One of the amazing benefits of working as an evaluator with a variety of institutions is the opportunity for personal learning. Having an art-history background, I find myself learning the most when I’m placed in non-art environments—reading about fault lines and earthquakes at the California Academy of Science, or getting my hands dirty while exploring decomposers at the New York Botanical Garden. Granted, as an evaluator, my job is to understand how visitors experience these exhibits and programs, but as a museum-loving individual, I can’t help but want to engage with the content myself.
In the past month, some of my RK&A colleagues and I have had the pleasure of evaluating exhibits and programs about a range of topics, including tropical animal and plant life, of which I, as an Ohio native, have great appreciation for and very little personal knowledge. Recently we conducted a formative evaluation at the Miami Science Museum of the aquarium component planned for the new Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The exhibits (a mix of interactives and live-animal tanks) were designed specifically to encourage visitors to look closely, discuss their observations, ask questions, and explain what their observations might mean. As I observed from visitors’ experiences, these sorts of exhibits and behaviors prompted visitors to engage as active participants and informal learners, having fun exploring an exhibit while employing scientific skills (sometimes even unknowingly).
It was a few weeks later on a work trip to Puerto Rico when I first realized how much I had unknowingly absorbed from our recent environmentally-focused work and how often I was using these newly found scientific skills. My colleague Emily Craig had surprised me with a visit to a local beach between our data collection sessions, and as we walked up and down the beach, I noticed that we were doing the same behaviors we had monitored weeks earlier when conducting the formative evaluation at the Miami Science Museum. We pointed out bright green vegetation and abandoned white shells once home to small creatures adhered to the driftwood. We looked closely at the patterns of snail shells, which reminded me of patterns from blue and white china. We tested the suction-based strength of a sea urchin (one of the live animals we had learned about at the Miami Science Museum) when we attempted to carefully move it to safer grounds. We speculated about the type of rocks that made up the shore based on the way the rocks seemed to cement fossils and sea glass in their cracks. We observed a baby octopus that had been washed ashore before scooping it up and returning it to sea. We made claims about the small, squishy spheres we found on the shoreline, hypothesizing that they were eggs and guessing which creatures had laid them. In short, we were bringing our museum-honed scientific skills and sense of investigative science to the Puerto Rican shoreline.
Being on the shore for that moment gave me an even greater appreciation of the work that museums and cultural institutions do and their importance in our lives. Though I often visit institutions wearing my evaluator hat, focusing on other people’s experiences rather than my own, the information and knowledge institutions offer still seep into my subconscious interactions with the world—prompting me to wonder just how much we take away from our museum experiences that we may never even recognize.