San Francisco, CA
The Exploratorium is a museum of science, art and human perception – a beloved San Francisco institution that had wowed visitors for three decades in spite of its increasingly cramped and crumbling quarters in the Palace of Fine Arts. Its new home on Piers 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero offers three times its former space, access to all forms of transit, a glass-enclosed observatory with panoramic views of the bay and vastly expanded biological displays. The majority of the existing infill area between the piers was removed to expose the water and to create a “water pile garden”, which provides a scenic outdoor exhibit area. The new museum opened to accolades in 2013.
We designed it to be the largest net-zero energy-use museum in the country. We topped it with enough solar panels to provide power to a thousand homes and a cooling and heating system that uses bay water.
In 2005, Wilson Meany was retained to manage the entitlements, design and construction of the new museum. This role included negotiating a 66-year ground lease with the Port of San Francisco. The Piers fall within the San Francisco Embarcadero National Register Historic District and in the National Register of Historic Places, which means they were meticulously renovated to preserve the historic fabric of their San Francisco waterfront location.