Museum Park Opens and America’s Tall Ship Arrives

Posted on June 12th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.50.05 PM

Did you know Museum Park in Downtown Miami is opening to the public this Saturday? To celebrate this occasion, “America’s Tall Ship,” the U.S. Coast Guard Barque EAGLE, will be docked at Museum Park from Saturday, June 14 through Tuesday, June 17. It then will be open for free public tours from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

USCGC Eagle is the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud line dating back to 1792. The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel. (Five identical sister ships were also built.) For more information, click here.

The Gulf Stream Tank – Water and Concrete

Posted on June 2nd, 2014

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By: MiaSci

gulf stream Tank

How impressive is the Gulf Stream Tank at our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (even before it’s finished)? Let us count the ways.

5 million
Pounds of concrete needed to form the Living Core building, which houses the Gulf Stream aquarium tank

12 hours
Amount of time to pour that concrete (over 2 shifts of workers)

130 trucks
Needed to bring 250 cubic yards of concrete to the site

9.5 miles
Length of post tensioning cables that are buried within the tank’s concrete walls, to hold the concrete in tension and prevent it from cracking

28 to 56 inches
Thickness of the tank wall

Surface area in square feet of the tank walls

Custom formwork panels that need to be assembled for the structure of the tank

5 to 6 weeks
Time needed to install the custom formwork, before the steel rebar beams can be placed, to be ready for the concrete pour

Gallons of water held in the tank

And once it’s complete:
A seemingly infinite, spectacular array of large and small marine life will call the Gulf Stream Tank home, and showcase the diversity and importance of our waters.

What’s next:
A test pour in the next few weeks to verify the means and methods of the concrete pour, on a full-size mockup slice of the tank, then the official pour by the beginning of August!

Thanks to our concrete team Baker Concrete Construction for these amazing pieces of information!

Museum Team in South Africa

Posted on May 30th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

There is amazing talent, resources and technology all over the world, including right here at home in Miami. But sometimes, to find the best at a particular skill, you have to travel a little ways. Senior Museum staff recently traveled to South Africa to meet with a consortium of three firms selected for a major interactive multimedia experience at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

Check out this CNBC Africa news clip, and you’ll see why we are partnering with this amazing team.

The project was also featured on Lead SA, a leading online resource in South Africa. To read the article and learn more, please click here.

Meet the Museum’s New Construction Management Firm

Posted on May 19th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science announced on Friday, May 16, 2014 that Skanska USA has come on board as the new museum’s construction management firm.

Skanska has significant experience building museums and public institutions around the world, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York City, and the Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios at University of Miami. “We are honored to work with the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and Miami-Dade County to help bring this world-class cultural institution to reality in downtown Miami. Skanska is proud to be part of the team that will deliver this unique and innovative science museum to the community.” said  Skanska Executive Vice President Fred Hames.

The Venus Orbit “All About Venus” Event

Posted on May 6th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

Trish Bell, Julia Rea Bianchi and Swanee DiMare

On Wednesday, April 23, over 100 guests gathered at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science for “All About Venus,” a celebration in honor of the museum’s Venus Orbit women’s initiative, hosted by Venus Orbit Chair and Trustee Julia Rea Bianchi.

Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, including the “Orbit-tini,” the signature purple libation of the night, before making their way into the planetarium for the main program. Julia then awarded Crystal Stars to the Venus Orbit galactic team captains who had fulfilled their “Orbit” by making a minimum donation of $1,000 and recruiting nine additional members to join the Venus Orbit initiative. Crystal Star recipients included museum board Co-chair Trish Bell, board member Taffy Gould, Maria Schwedel, Julee Akselrad, Barbara Goldin and Liz Hogan.

Julia Rea Bianchi, Taffy Gould, Julee Akselrad, Maria Schwedel, Trish Bell and Gillian Thomas

A special honor was bestowed upon Julia for her creation of, and dedication to, Venus Orbit. Julia received a personalized construction hat in purple, the Venus Orbit signature color, to be worn when she is at the construction site of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

Julia Rea Bianchi

Following the ceremony, the group was treated to an engaging demonstration by a member of the planetarium team, Claudia Hernandez, who showed the audience how to find Venus in the Miami sky before taking them on a virtual voyage to Venus utilizing the planetarium’s technology. Afterward, Caroline Simpson, Ph.D., associate professor at Florida International University, shared a presentation about historical women in astronomy, including an anecdote about the beauty of Venus in the night sky being her personal inspiration for becoming an astronomer.

Additional notable attendees included Honorary Chair and Trustee Swanee DiMare and Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science President & CEO Gillian Thomas.

Gillian Thomas and Swanee DiMare

Venus Orbit is an initiative to bring together 1,000 “out-of-this-world” women to donate $1,000 each in support of the construction of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s new state of the art planetarium, currently under construction in downtown Miami at Museum Park. The group will collectively raise $1 million dollars to be matched by a Knight Foundation 1:2 Challenge Grant, for a total of $1.5 million dollars.

For more information on Venus Orbit and to learn more about joining, please visit the Venus Orbit website or call Edson Pires at 305.646.4224.

Elena Luca, Gloria Danovitz, Pam Garrison, Trish Bell and Barbara Resse

Maria Schwedel and Julee Akselrad

Marta Hutson and Dr. Eldredge Bermingham

For more photos from the “All About Venus” event, click here.

Our Story in Concrete

Posted on April 23rd, 2014

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By: MiaSci

Concrete. The word itself may not initially excite much inspiration – unless you’re one of those who knows something about it. Then the word transforms into a series of interrelated things – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (“STEAM” in museum-speak). For the construction of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the precise science, engineering, and art of concrete becomes even more critical, and more interesting, due to the sheer complexity of the building itself. Baker Concrete Construction is responsible for making it all happen, and Ken Hover, an independent concrete consultant and Professor of Engineering at Cornell University now also assigned to the project, sat down with us to tell us all about it. Dr. Hover began his career as a military engineer, repairing deteriorating structures, but soon was more interested to know just what had caused the deterioration in the first place. This motivation led to a long career working on a multitude of construction projects, ensuring that structures are built to the highest standards. In regards to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science project, he started the conversation with two statements that were amazing and inspiring in and of themselves.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is not just your everyday concrete building - it is destined for the covers of science and design publications.

The only commodity in the world used in greater capacity than concrete is water.


The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science from the live feed camera, April 2014

What makes the structure of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science so special? Many building are made up of a series of rectangles, each story the same as the one below it. The Museum on the other hand, is made up of four separate buildings – each one is a different shape, each level is a different size, shape, height, or configuration from the one below it, and many parts of the structure are visible from every angle. From a concrete construction perspective, all of that means there is no repetition. Each story, column, beam, and floor needs to be individually considered in terms of engineering and aesthetics (remember, concrete is all about “STEAM”).


The uniquely shaped molds that will become the concrete columns supporting the Museum’s Gulf Stream tank

A central feature of the Museum will be the 500,000 gallon Gulf Stream aquarium tank, which will be supported by six unique concrete columns. What goes into making a single concrete column? First, you make the concrete itself, mixing cement powder, water, sand, and stone. (This recipe has not changed since Julius Caesar’s chief architect wrote it down over 2,000 years ago, but for this project, there are lots of additional additives to this concrete which make our mix special.) Then you test the consistency by pouring some out onto a flat board. As the concrete spreads, you check that it spreads evenly, and swirl it around to make sure that there isn’t any excess water. You create a mold for the column using wooden forms and steel beams, and then, you do not pour the concrete in to the top of the form mold. Instead, you pump it in from the bottom of the form, letting the concrete push itself up as it fills (this method minimizes air bubbles). After curing and another round of quality control for structure and aesthetics, the column is ready to serve its purpose.


Pouring a small amount of concrete to test consistency and quality


The arm of the concrete truck, pumping concrete into the column form


The concrete being pumped into the bottom of the form (by the white arm on the right, which connects the concrete truck and the column)

It takes a mindboggling amount of concrete to construct any building, and there is a “carbon footprint” associated with making cement powder. But the Museum is taking every possible measure to be “green,” even in the construction process. We are using a material called “blast furnace slag” to minimize the amount of cement needed for the structure. This byproduct in the production of iron and steel had historically been discarded as waste, but when it was found to be chemically similar to cement and just as strong, it began to be used in the construction of environmentally friendly building projects, like the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. This concrete technology is just one of the many reasons why the Museum is earning a Gold-Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.


Dr. Hover (left) with Ezra Garcia (Project Manager, of Hill International)

At the end of the conversation, Dr. Hover summed up the job of a concrete consultant and construction firm like this:

Our job is to bridge the initial dream, the architectural drawings, and the reality of a building for everyone to enjoy.

From the beautiful rendering of the finished Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science below, that seems like a big job.

museum finish

The initial dream and end state of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, bridged by concrete construction