New Carnegie Science Center pavilion features classrooms, dramatic city views
The Carnegie Science Center’s new $33 million pavilion set to open Saturday is a laboratory and exhibition space featuring one of the best views of Pittsburgh’s Downtown skyline and its rivers.
Center officials Monday dedicated the four-story PPG Science Pavilion that’s been under construction for the past year and offered a VIP tour of the facility.
The pavilion features a two-story exhibition gallery, nine STEM learning labs and Pointview Hall, an event space with a glass wall and outdoor terrace facing Pittsburgh’s Point State Park and the Ohio River.
Science center co-director Ann Metzger said the additional space would permit an expansion of programming for children and increase overall attendance by about 50 percent. The center draws about 500,000 visitors annually, the most of any museum in the city, and offers programming to about 170,000 kids each year.
“This is the culmination of nine years of planning to bring this to the citizens of Pittsburgh,” she said.
More than 350 people and organizations donated a total of $46 million to build the pavilion and fund center programming through “SPARK! A Campaign for Carnegie Science Center.”
It included a $7.5 million gift from PPG and the PPG Foundation, the center’s largest gift and the largest ever given by PPG.
Michael H. McGarry, PPG’s chairman and CEO, said the pavilion aligns with the company’s goal of strengthening Western Pennsylvania’s workforce in STEM-related fields: science, technology, engineering and math.
“At PPG we know first-hand the importance of sparking a passion for science and math in students as well as the need for a skilled STEM workforce,” McGarry said.
“We understand that science and technology are vital for our future growth, both as a company and as a community.”
The pavilion includes nine FedEX STEM learning labs on the ground floor, five of which feature large windows facing the rivers.
A two-story Scaife Exhibit Gallery will host traveling exhibits. The first one — “The Art of the Brick” — featuring Lego-based art by Nathan Sawaya, debuts Saturday.
“These national exhibits used to bypass Pittsburgh because we didn’t have the space,” said Connie George, the center’s senior director of marketing.
Pointview Hall and Terrace on the top floor is reserved for large STEM competitions and events, educational programming, conferences and private events and can hold up to 600 people.
A large rain garden immediately outside the first floor classrooms is designed to capture 100 percent of the building’s rainwater in an underground tank and release it slowly into the ground.
“The important thing is it’s really a demonstration of how a building can be sustainable,” Metzger said. “It’s important to the footprint of the science center, but it also helps to educate kids.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.