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The New Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum has always been a freewheeling learning and exploration place based on innovative fine art rather than designed educational exhibits. With that in mind, museum leaders and the design team wanted a building with the feel of an artist’s loft. The new 50,000-square-foot facility is a contemporary warehouse in an urban setting that responds well to the climate by retaining heat in the winter and staying cool longer during the summer.

The museum’s saw-tooth-shaped roof features photovoltaic panels that generate 144,000 kWh of electricity per year, about half of the museum’s electricity needs. Glass walls and north-facing clerestory windows provide natural daylight, the principal design strategy. Sixty percent of the building utilizes a natural ventilation system. Fresh air enters the museum through lower-level windows and doors, and as it heats up, rises and exits the building through upper-level openings and a solar cooling chimney. A computer fine-tunes the comfort level by opening or closing windows and louvers as needed. Exposed concrete construction creates a thermal mass that protects against large indoor temperature swings, and passive solar gain provides all winter heating in the public spaces. Additionally, the facility uses waterless urinals and recycled content for wall tiles, countertops, restroom partitions and floor coverings.

The jurors commented that the project stands out because the museum maintains a sense of playfulness while incorporating natural ventilation, which is rare in a museum setting. They added that it is a true accomplishment to design a facility with natural ventilation that responds so well to natural forces.

To top this project off as the leading facility this year, the museum’s sustainable design and energy efficiency features serve as built-in educational tools for visitors.

Award Credit

Structural Engineer
Glotman-Simpson Engineers
Landscape Architect
Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects
General Contractor
Erickson-Hall Construction Company
Nasland Engineering
LSW Engineers
Paul Linden, UCSD Professor
Patrick B. Quigley and Associates
Brighton Noying

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