Kidspace Children's Museum
Pasadena, California  

The new Kidspace Museum is located in Brookside Park on three acres of gently sloping, forested land. This landmark site includes three historic Fannie Morrison Horticultural Center buildings constructed in 1938.  A fourth building, at the eastern length of the site, was lost to fire in 1984.  In its place, the new buildings redefine the existing courtyard while providing views into the park between and through the new structure. Additionally, new connective structures weave through the rehabilitated historic buildings. Externally, the new buildings provide minimal views to the inner life of the museum.

Visitors to the Museum arrive primarily by foot from the large parking areas 300 yards immediately to the west. Within the existing Center's historic entry, a "tube" which pierces through the building transports arriving visitors directly from the park onto a raised plinth that sits within the interior courtyard. Main entrances from each of the architectural elements purposely lead onto the courtyard to encourage visitors to move back and forth between enclosed, programmed spaces and open courtyard vistas. Beneath the new traveling exhibit galleries, the sloping courtyard leads to a 100-seat, multiform theater.  When weather permits, large sliding glass doors transform the space into a semi-outdoor amphitheater.

Organized as a bundled series of layers and "slots", the new building provides deep views through multiple volumes of program and activity, creating potential for both focused or singular activity, as well as creating zones or precincts where programmatic overlaps can be developed. This strategy of blurred spatial and program distinctions extends to the sectional characteristics of the building design, while allowing children to occupy unobstructed visual vantage points. Reinforcing the Museum's pedagogical goals, movement through the buildings allows for both a continuous "narrative" procession, as well as a series of "short circuits" or multiple direct routes to specific exhibits.  These diverse and possible routes create a spatial organization that allows for diverse learning styles and focus to ultimately determine and define the experience of the museum.

A tilted tower element in the northwest corner houses a climbing structure that inspires children with a sense of discovery and adventure as it reveals fresh visual perspectives of the surrounding context. Administrative offices are located in an existing building directly across the courtyard from the new museum, while the front building houses an early child development classroom, a cafŽ and a gift shop. Sensitivity to building heights, alignments and views creates interesting relationships between the existing and the new, and materials used in the existing buildings are repeated in the new structures at differing scales and textures.


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