Detroit, Michigan




$24 million


1999 - 2001


60,000 sf

For nearly three decades, the Detroit Science Center has dedicated itself to inspiring children and families to experience the wonder of science and technology – hosting nearly four million visitors in the process. The original Detroit Science Center was ahead of its time; it was one of the first science centers in the United States to provide modern, interactive, hands-on exhibits and only the second to open an IMAX dome Theater.

The new and renovated facility, which opened July 2001, has added more than 60,000 sf of new construction. With this additional space, the Detroit Science Center will have the capacity to serve over 500,000 visitors each year with an estimated annual attendance of 300,000 guests and an additional 100,000 children attending as part of organized groups. The new and renovated facility features ten times the original exhibit space. The exhibit area is divided into exhibit laboratories reflecting major themes developed by the Michigan Department of Education for the Michigan Public Schools' science curriculum. Exhibit laboratories include: The Motion Lab; Life Sciences Lab; Matter and Energy Lab; and the Wave Lab.

Also new in this facility is the addition of a 3D Digital Dome Planetarium, which has one of the world's few digital planetarium projection systems.

BEI provided all engineering services, which consisted of programming, schematic design, responsibility for working drawings, specifications, and construction administration, including field observation for the new and renovated facility. Its completion marks a significant achievement as the facility was completed in less than two years at a phenomenally low cost of $115 per square foot. That number is one-third the dollars per square foot used to build most contemporary American museums and was achieved despite high-end refurbishing, renovation and extensive new building requirements. Specific industrial design features include:

    - Various noise control and energy conservation measures were employed in the design, such as modulating     the outdoor air ventilation rates to suit the varying occupancy levels, by the use of carbon dioxide sensors.
    - A state-of-the-art digital building management system was provided for control of the mechanical systems.

BEI used a design-to-budget approach to expand the Detroit Science Center. When the construction cost estimate for the initial design exceeded the owner's budget, the design team worked with the construction manager to reduce cost while minimizing the impact on many of the unique design features of the building addition. Neumann Smith Associates was the Architect and Walbridge Aldinger was the Construction Manager.

  • DSC_1
  • DSC_3
  • DSC_5
  • DSC_2
  • DSC_4
  • building