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COMPLETED: Connecticut Science Center @ Adriaen's Landing

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An Adriaen Challenge

Firms Vie For Science Center

By TOM PULEO

Courant Staff Writer | August 6 2004

Science center planners aren't asking to build the impossible at Adriaen's Landing - just an architectural tour de force.

They want an eye-catching structure that conveys both landmark eminence and educational formality. They want a building that complements Hartford's skyline and retains its own identity.

They want a science center that's flexible, accessible, secure, "green" and filled with dramatic vistas of downtown and the banks of the Connecticut River. They want it all done on a difficult, 2.5-acre site, and they want it on time and under budget.

Such is the challenge facing four architects recently named finalists in an international competition to design the $150 million Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration.

"That's the beauty of a competition," said Theodore S. Sergi, the center's president. "We're asking the finalists, `What form should this building take to meet our goals and serve the function of a statewide science center?'

"We want a building that teaches, that uses alternate energy sources, that takes advantage of the river, that is sensitive to the surrounding buildings. Expense, cost and time matter to us. In this state, we should care."

The four firms vying for the challenge are among the best in their business, complete with international renown and resumes stretching from Malaysia to Minnesota.

The firms - Cesar Pelli & Associates Architects, New Haven; Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc. Architects and Planners, Boston; Zaha Hadid Architects, London; and Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner Inc., Venice, Calif. - have until Sept. 15 to submit their final proposals.

Popularized in Europe, design competitions tend to bring out the best in contending firms and leave executives like Sergi with multiple options. The science center is paying $50,000 for each plan, leaving it with ownership rights and the ability to mix and match design elements.

"The one selected may not be the one asked to go ahead with its particular scheme," said Robert A.M. Stern, who is advising the board on the search.

One of the country's foremost architects and dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, Stern said the chosen firm "might have the pulse [of the project] while we have other thoughts to bring to the table."

The small site at the northern edge of Adriaen's Landing presents some design constraints, according to a December 2003 letter from White Oak Associates Inc., the center's museum consultant. Construction can only go one way - up. The site has environmental issues and the building will need at least two major entrances, one on Columbus Boulevard and another at the level of Riverfront Recapture's walkway over I-91.

All four finalists noted these complexities in their response to a request for qualifications.

Their final submissions are due Sept. 20, when the firms will present their visions to the science center board of directors. A public forum also is planned, though the time and place are undetermined. On Sept. 24, the board's selection committee will recommend a winner.

The cost of construction is estimated around $100 million. The finished center would cost about $150 million and include exhibits exploring the Connecticut River, health and medicine, outer space and the relation of science to the state's arts and heritage venues.

The 160,000-square-foot building also would include a large screen theater, a smaller multi-use theater, an education center with themed classrooms and teacher resources, a restaurant and a gift shop.

The science center would become the second biggest in New England, behind the Boston Museum of Science (420,000 square feet). Nationally, it would fall in the medium-size category.

"We've got four world-class but different architecture firms," Sergi said. "They all know it's a much sought-after site. They know there's economic development going on. That has created excitement."

From The Hartford Courant

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New Science Center's Architect Brings Passion For State To Work

Pelli's Aerie Provides A View

By TOM PULEO

Courant Staff Writer | September 25 2004

Cesar Pelli works by feel - whether he's designing a building, cooking his own meals or grabbing a comfortable turquoise denim shirt from his closet.

So when he applied to become the architect of downtown Hartford's new science center in May, he got into his Buick and took a ride up. He wanted to get a better sense of the Connecticut River he knew would power his design.

He strolled onto Riverfront Plaza and let the sun and scenery wash over him. He envisioned himself floating high above the riverbanks, soaring.

It was then that Pelli hatched his idea to hang an eagle's nest observation deck just beneath the planned 140-foot-high cantilevered roof of the building he designed. The nest and roof will extend over I-91 toward the river like a "magic carpet ride."

"You let yourself be taken in by the landscape," Pelli said Friday. "It's like listening to good music. Don't try to think it through, you just take it in."

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The lanky, easygoing architect - unanimously selected Friday by the board of trustees of the Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration - predicted that the deck would help draw some of the 400,000 yearly visitors that the science center hopes to attract to the site at Adriaen's Landing.

"When there's been a deep snow, or the foliage is blazing, or there's morning light in spring, you'll want to go up and look at that landscape," he said Friday in his Chapel Street office in New Haven. "You would say, `My God, what a privilege it is to live in Connecticut.'"

The observation deck, known as an "aerie," is one of many features that impressed the trustees enough to name Pelli the winner Friday of an international design competition. In selecting Pelli over three other finalists, the board also announced $10.5 million in new pledges from its own members.

Another Pelli strength is passion. At age 77, the grandfather of two showed more enthusiasm than his peers this week while unveiling his model in public. He said the project carries deep personal meaning for him as a Connecticut resident whose job has taken him across the globe and back.

Science center board members noticed the zeal - important for a project that will require enormous collaboration to get built by October 2007, an aggressive timetable by museum standards. Pelli's budget for his design was also within the $100 million budget organizers had set for the actual building.

"Cesar Pelli's firm was absolutely the most passionate about putting together the kind of team that we need here," selection committee Chairwoman Cheryl Chase said Friday in announcing Pelli as the winner.

Pelli prevailed over Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc.; Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner; and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Pelli is perhaps best known for designing the 88-floor Petronas Twin Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - considered the world's tallest buildings when erected in 1996. That distinction now belongs to the Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan.

A former dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, Pelli is a city guy who believes in social art. From the public-oriented Winter Garden at New York's World Financial Center to the intimate scale of his Computing and Engineering Center at Trinity College, Pelli's work always pays attention to civic dimensions. He also designed the Village Apartments at the University of Hartford.

"I'm very fond of cities," he said. "Urban centers are where everything comes together - people of different ages, different ethnic groups, different incomes. Suburbs are not like that. Suburbs tend to segregate and separate people."

At nine stories high, Pelli's design was the tallest among the four. The building would rise from Columbus Boulevard via a three-level garage podium, and then climb to a glass, light-filled public room - called "Science Alley" - designed to connect the complex with the river. Exhibits and galleries would be located throughout the mostly glass structure.

Another distinguishing feature is a 50-feet wide by 60-feet tall animated movie screen that will sit above Columbus Avenue. Pelli plans to run science-centered shows touching on anything from ecology to the planet system.

"There's a wealth of film out there today on scientific achievements," he said.

Pelli also is bullish on the educational nature of his building. The observation deck will include exhibits explaining the past, present and future of the Connecticut River. It will be open year-round and include space for about 12 people at the window and a couple dozen more inside the observation area.

The board donations include the Pfizer Foundation, $5 million; United Technologies Corp., $2 million; the Aetna Foundation, $1.5 million; Cheryl Chase & Stuart Bear Family Foundation and the Rhoda and David Chase Family Foundation, $1 million; The Hartford Financial Services Group, $500,000; and Steven A. Denning & Roberta Denning Bowman, $500,000.

The contributions put the center within $26 million of its goal of $150 million. The project, with a $50 million budget for programs and exhibits, includes about $107 million in state funds or bonding.

From The Hartford Courant

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Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration

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The Connecticut Center for Science And Exploration (CTCSE) will be an educational destination as part of the Adriaen's Landing development, with regional appeal to families and tourists. It will feature hands-on, interactive science and technology exhibits and programs designed to inspire and motivate visitors of all ages, with a focus on young people of the most impressionable ages.

The Center will be designed to be flexible, with a prominent section of galleries and exhibits changing on a regular basis. It will operate significant outreach, off-site distance learning, and teacher support programs in addition to on-site programs.

The Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration will:

[*]Overlook the Connecticut River next to Riverfront Plaza in Connecticut

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This is an amazing project and it is also great that Cesar Pelli, a New Havener was chosen for the project. This will be a great asset to the City of Hartford. This Science Center will be another major museum/attraction for the city just like the Wadsworth Atheneum is.

Not talked about much is the Science Center of Connecticut which is not affiliated with the new science center in Downtown. The Science Center of CT is located in West Hartford and it's lease is expected to end soon so they are looking for possible places to relocate. They may go to Middletown which would mean that there would be no competition and two great science centers located in communities along the CT River.

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Let me get this straight. There will be the Connecticut Center for Science & Exploration and the Science Center of Connecticut. That is going to be confusing, even if the one in West Hartford moves to Middletown. I think the science center that's going to be built in Hartford should change its name.

Edited by Mike D

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You are correct about the two scicence center but the CT Center for Science and Exploration (To be built in Hartford) is accpeting suggestions and ideas about a new and shorter name. The name was quickly created as a method to get the public aware of the new science center, attract donations, and get architectural renderings and master plans in place.

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river_view_1.jpg

This stunning new building will be one of the most dramatic sights in the city. Amazingly, Hartford will have three signature buildings virtually next to each other when the Science Center goes up next to the Phoenix Boat and the Traveler's Tower.

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Conduit -- Why did you move my thread down here?

A) My photo is the redesign, your photo is the original buildng. They look similar but I think the redesign, which is the building that will actuallly be built, deserves its own thread.

B) The construction start date on your thread is wrong. The correct date is part of my thread title.

I understand wanting to run a clean looking board. But burying new information in an existing thread doesn't help keep anyone informed.

I will assume you made an honest mistake as the redesign is very close to the original. Just count the floors and, the new design has fewer.

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I will assume you made an honest mistake

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

No mistake. New information does not always warrant it's own thread, things should stay together so that people who haven't visited the forum can see how the entire project unfolded.

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I don't know if its been metioned yet, but the exact date for groundbreaking is October 21st. The Hartford 21 tower will also have it's topping off ceremony in October, so it should be an exciting month in Hartford.

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In addition to the groundbreaking and the topping off cermamony both in October the city will be hosting numerous conventions that will drawm thousands to the city which is why in October the Hartford Circulator Project will have its test run. The service will bring people from the Convention Center to differant parts of the downtown area including hotels and shopping areas and then circle around back to the convention center.

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in October the Hartford Circulator Project will have its test run.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Do you know what kind of vehicles they plan to use? Is it a free shuttle or is there a fare?

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Today ground will be broken at the Adriaens Landing site for the new $149.5 million dollar CT Center for Science and Exploration which will hopefully become one of the biggest attractions in the state when it opens in 2008.

From the Hartford Courant

Courant

Also in the paper the Wadsworth has chosen an architect for the conversion of the Hartford Times Building at Front Street

Courant

These two weeks have brought great news for the city of Hartford, apartments at Main and Park Streets, apartments at the YMCA site, science center groundbreaking and another step has been taken in converting the Times Building at Front Street.

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But Lynn is now building the "Sky Tower" that I've been suggesting for Hartford for over a year now. We should have built a tower like that...

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The Science center sounds nice, however I think they should include a IMAX theater which can be found at many science centers around the country.

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The Science center sounds nice, however I think they should include a IMAX theater which can be found at many science centers around the country.

There will be 2 theatres in the complex, one of which (Giant Screen theatre) sounds similar to an IMAX:

Giant Screen theater

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Vlad, do you really believe that Lynn, Mass is building a 2,000 foot tower?

The Empire State Building is 1,200 feet tall. This is 800 feet, an 80 story building taller than that.

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