The Exploratorium in San Francisco

The new Exploratorium located at Pier 15 on The Embarcadero in San Francisco does not only take its mission of a "twenty-first-century learning laboratory, an eye-opening, always-changing, playful place to explore and tinker" to a next level of a fun and engaging experience but also connects to the city with a series of public spaces and installations. The science museum moved from its old location at the Palace of Fine Arts to Pier 15 in April this year. San Francisco based firm EHDD designed the new facility as a net-zero building reusing the existing historic Pier building and adding a new structure that holds the Bay Observatory. 1.5 acres of of public accessible open space surround the over 800 feet long building, whose roof includes a 1.3-megawatt solar power system.


The new Bay Observatory with open spaces and outdoor exhibits



The new location was a great choice because of the extraordinary opportunity it presents to engage with people compared to the old location, which was beautiful but isolated and difficult to access. Starting with the demolition of the elevated freeway in 1991 following the damage caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Embarcadero has slowly transformed into an urban boulevard bustling with activity and reconnecting the city with its waterfront. The new Exploratorium contributes to this quality in an inviting and hands-on way with interactive displays, whimsical installations, playful seating, and a unique reference to San Francisco, the fog bridge.

If you miss the San Francisco fog on a sunny day, just visit the fog bridge.
The building is surrounded by public spaces offering views of the Bay

Some of the temporary public spaces were developed and designed by the Exploratorium's Outdoor Studio in collaboration with Rebar and Design Studio and serve as pilot projects for waterfront public access, installed in time at different locations along the waterfront in time for the America's Cup that took place this past fall. Now the Exploratorium's seating installations have even popped up in places such as Market Street, offering unexpected and curious places of respite. It's a great example of temporary urbanism and the big difference small interventions in public space can make. Not only do these pieces and spaces remind people of one of the city's unique institutions but they also truly make the institution engage with the city and bring meaning to interactivity on a physical level - a welcome break from the virtual connectivity that isolates us from our surroundings.

Temporary public spaces with creative seating that invites play
The interactive artwork "Homouroboros"  by Peter Hudson is a large  zoetrope. It starts to spin through a steady rhythm of drums and the movement can be seen as a single animation through shutters in daylight and strobe lights at night.
The monkeys have a great view of Telegraph Hill

H.S.