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n The Living Systems gallery frames the view of the Bay as the exhibits investigate the world it looks out on Visibility, public access and flexibility


drove the planning and design. Situated midway between Ferry Plaza and Pier 39, the new Exploratorium brings to life a previously dormant stretch of San Francisco’s historic Embarcadero waterfront – the city’s front porch. Almost three times larger than its previous site, the new campus uses Bay water as a basis for many new outdoor exhibits, as well as to control the temperature of the museum.


What’s the style?


The complexity of the brief – to design an ultra-flexible building to support an ever-changing array of exhibits in keeping with the Exploratorium’s culture of inquiry – was matched by the challenge of rehabil- itating an existing historic structure in the most energy-efficient manner possible. Pier 15 was renovated to maintain its historic character and the tinkering studio atmosphere of the old Exploratorium. More like an artist’s studio or an experimental laboratory than a place of display, the building takes advantage of the original pier building’s daylight and the water of


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the bay for cooling, and uses materials that are both sustainable and durable enough to withstand a harsh maritime climate. The goal is for the Exploratorium to be the USA’s largest net zero energy museum. This, combined with the Explora- torium’s reputation as a hub of innovation, will make the building an industry model for what’s possible in energy efficiency.


And outside? A promenade encircling Pier 15 and an out- door plaza between the piers enables free interactive outdoor exhibits, Exploratorium explainers, captivating the general public and passers-by with the direct experience of the surrounding bay and the city. This expe- rience begins at the water’s edge to a point 820 feet off-shore. (Pier 15 is the length of a New York City block, avenue to avenue) The plaza and the hum of activity is the new marquee – no signage required.


How about sustainability? We designed a building that incorporates many energy-efficient elements aimed at producing all of its energy needs on-site.


For example, the 1.3-megawatt photovoltaic array on the roof is equivalent to powering 1,000 average American homes over the course of a year, or removing 5,900 automobiles from our highways. Bay water is brought in and run through a heat exchanger to affect the temperature of a separate closed freshwater loop running through the floor. This second loop contains 40 miles of plastic pipe moving over 73,000 gallons per hour to change the temperature of the space. Less overhead ducts were required as a result. All new windows use high performance triple element glazing to better insulate the building and admit copious amounts of natural light, further reducing reliance on electricity. Sixteen per cent of roof run-off is captured in cisterns and sterilised prior to flushing toilets. What isn’t stored is filtered and returned to the bay.


What was the state of the original pier structure? The substructure of the pier was heavily damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. Our design combined repairs


LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014 77


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