Designed by QEA in conjunction with New York-based Pfeiffer Partners, the new Center furthers the museum’s science-centered mission through green building. Richard Conti, the museum’s Chief Wonder Officer, opened the tour by explaining that the museum has embraced environmental sustainability in its exhibits and education, so implementing green practices in its buildings was a logical extension of this ethos. The museum buys green power for its campus and has implemented a building automation system in its historic main building, a former train station, to lower its energy usage. QEA’s Kelley Holmes, AIA, pointed out several of the Gottwald Center’s sustainable features, beginning with its orientation – its glass curtain wall faces north to minimize solar heat gain, while the south wall is opaque and well insulated. Local and recycled materials were used throughout the building; the terrazzo floor in the lobby is flecked with bits of recycled mirror.
“We are very proud the building achieved LEED Gold from a science perspective.”
Richard Conti, Chief Wonder Officer Science Museum of Virginia
The Gottwald Center has proved to be very popular, surpassing the museum’s expectations for venue rentals; in between months-long special exhibits, the building has hosted more than 150 events in the two years since it opened. By building green, the museum is demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability to every visitor who passes through the Gottwald Center.