Maker's Paradise

The Treehouse at the New York Hall of Science’s Design Lab.
Courtesy Situ Studio

Situ Studio is transforming the New York Hall of Science’s Lower Central Pavilion into a new complex of permanent pavilions designed to facilitate interactive learning. This 10,000-square-foot space, dubbed the Design Lab, will consist of five new individual exhibition and program spaces: the sandbox, the backstage theatre, the dollhouse, the fort, and the tree house. Each pavilion, housed within its own dynamic structure, has been conceived for a specific purpose from model building to physics-oriented activities.

Exterior (left) and interior (right) views of the Design Lab’s Dollhouse.

“The intent of our installation is to facilitate these activities, providing space for participants to work, storage space to organize the various materials needed for the activities, display spaces where participants can showcase what they have made, and spaces for problem ideation,” said Katie Shima, architectural designer and project manager at Situ Studio.

The Brooklyn-based firm is executing all the fabrication in-house at their shop in the Navy Yard, which will be installed in different phases. The first pavilion, Maker Space, dedicated to computer programming and 3D printing, was completed last year. Next the firm is preparing to build out the Sandbox, an “open landscape” with seating along the perimeter that can accommodate large-scale structures.

Interior (left) and exterior (center) views of the Fort. The Treehouse (right).

While the design of each pavilion is guided by a different set of activities, it is also intended to be instructive for the visitors. “In keeping with Maker culture and the idea of showing how things are made, the pavilions at Design Lab are detailed to reveal their construction logic, and the dominant material will be wood. The natural hues of the wood along with a few color accents will bring some warmer tones to the existing concrete space,” said Shima.

The project is slated to be completed by 2014, but the museum will remain open throughout the installation process, allowing visitors to see first-hand how the pavilions are constructed.

Related Stories