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ARCHITECT FOCUS


I believe in architecture that moves people beyond the building itself and am drawn to how humans engage with architecture and make it their own


to existing pilings with insertion of new mega piles at the four corners. These were connected by a new structural slab poured over the existing fl oor that knits it together, creating a stiff platform that can withstand major temors. This allowed us to repair just over a third of the existing 15,000 piles. A service lot that had been built in the 1950s to conjoin the piers was removed to create the new plaza. Pilings were left to mark tide movement and serve as anchorage for temporary exhibits. Seismic bracing was inserted into the transit shed. The structure is painted a uniform color to maximise light refl ectance and minimise glare, but also to allow it to recede from view. The new structure is fabricated using round pipe to differentiate it from the old structure. Structure is celebrated but never steals the show.


THE EXPLORATORIUM


The Exploratorium science and arts mu- seum was founded in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1969 by physi- cist and educator Frank Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer believed that visitors would learn about science and technol- ogy by manipulating laboratory appa- ratus, and the Exploratorium was one of the fi rst American museums to use hands-on, interactive exhibits. Oppenheimer served as the museum’s


director until just before his death in 1985. Today it is led by science educa- tion and policy expert Dr Dennis Bartels.


The museum began to outgrow its home in the Palace of Fine Arts, and closed in January 2013, reopening in April 2013 in its new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. The new building was designed by EHDD architects, and is three times the size of the museum’s old home. As well as the exhibition space, it features a restaurant, café, a museum store and an event space called The Forum. It was designed to be energy effi - cient, and features the city’s largest building-mounted photovoltaic array.


■ Frank Oppenheimer 80 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014 www.leisurehandbook.com


What is your favourite part of the new building? The Fisher Bay Observatory, the only new structure, is an elegant two-story steel pavilion at the end of Pier 15 that contains an open plaza designed in collaboration with landscape architect Gary Strang. The Observatory stands out with its taut façade. The building uses fritted glass to mitigate heat gain and reduce bird strikes, and houses the Seaglass Restaurant and the ticketed Fisher Bay Observatory Gal- lery, which offers views of the open water, maritime traffi c, Treasure Island and Bay Bridge, as well as surrounding landscape.


What were the biggest challenges? Balancing the environmental needs and historic stewardship was a challenge. The more you err toward the historic, the more


you sacrifi ce energy-effi ciency, whereas the most energy-effi cient designs lose the history and uniqueness of a place. Our design strikes a balance.


What drew you to a career in architecture? When I was a child I drew voraciously, liked making things and could lose myself for hours. My mother often had to pry me away from my creations.


How did you start your career? My fi rst degree in architecture was at the University of Michigan. I then worked for four years in Dallas, Austin and New York City prior to my graduate degree at Yale. My early mentors were Alan Buchsbaum and Frederic Schwartz. Fred remains a trusted friend, confi dant and collaborator.


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