New civic space gives an inspiring new front to the historic train station and museum campus and provides more opportunity for community use.
As part of multiple projects Quinn Evans Architects has undertaken at the Science Museum of Virginia, the Dewey Gottwald Center is a new permanent large multipurpose space that can accommodate civic and private events, special large-scale traveling exhibits and educational programs. The project also includes a complementary exterior terrace that can be used in conjunction with the event space or for stand alone events.
The Science Museum of Virginia is located at the classic 1919 Union (Broad Street) Station designed by John Russell Pope. The addition is on axis with the Beaux Arts train station and addresses Leigh Street to provide a secondary event entry to the museum campus. The Dewey Gottwald Center’s design evolved from a thoughtful consideration of the historic context of the forms and order of the Broad Street Station and its site. The prominent roof form is a complementary yet contrasting response to the Station’s dome: whereas the dome encloses, gathers and centers people in its space, the reverse curvature of the Event Center’s roof is about gathering people yet opening them up to the wider context of the site and its outdoor spaces and features.
The Owner’s original brief for the project requested a building whose form would be evidently derived from and illustrative of math and science. We extended this thinking to consider the platonic forms used by Pope in the Station, and sought to employ similar kinds of geometries, transformed, to generate the form of the building. At its most basic level, the building is formed by the intersection of a simple cubic volume and a slice of 600-foot diameter cylinder!
The perimeter of the roof is elevated above glass curtain walls and clerestories that daylight the space and lend more lightness to the roof form. Interior ceiling and acoustical treatments parallel the angle of the roof trusses and model the curve of the roof on the interior. Open ceilings permit the high level of flexibility required in accommodating a variety of educational, commercial, social and cultural events as well as international-caliber traveling exhibits.
Operable panel partitions permit a variety of configurations for large and small events. The western elevation opens up to the terrace and the Museum’s open site, platforms and railway rolling stock and other artifacts. A lower volume on the north and east merges with the site berms and houses restrooms and storage, mechanical spaces and the catering and service areas. The front of the building establishes a new entry on Leigh Street appropriate to serving the events and expressive of the Museum’s 21st Century face.
The project was designed in partnership with Pfeiffer Partners Architects.