The St. Louis Science Center (SLSC) has opened its largest new exhibit space in 25 years. The new exhibition space, GROW, is the largest agriculture exhibit in the United States. At the heart of the exhibit is a 5,000-square-foot pavilion designed by St. Louis-based Arcturis in collaboration with HOK founder Gyo Obata. The new pavilion is situated on an acre of land which was the former site of the pneumatic Exploradome. Between the pavilion and its surrounding outdoor space, the new complex includes 40 interactive exhibits. Visitors to GROW can engage with farming implements, beehives, a greenhouse, chickens, fish, and live crops. Exhibits like the Fermentation Station will follow the path of beer from farm to bar. The exhibition design was done by Oakland, California–based Gyroscope. Demonstrations and events will also be held at GROW to help visitors understand the long, and often complicated, food supply chain. “We wanted to create something that reflects SLSC’s modernist architectural history and also feels like art. The pavilion’s curved roofline is open to interpretation by visitors and has inspired some to say it looks like a leaf, others that it reminds them of a turn-of-the-century plow. We’re very pleased with the result,” said Arcturis Principle Megan Ridgeway. Gyo Obata was the original architect of the Science Center’s iconic Planetarium, which was built in 1963.
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The St. Louis Science Center is adding its first new major exhibition space in 25 years with the 2016 summer opening of GROW, a permanent interactive agriculture exhibit. The exhibition design by Oakland, California–based Gyroscope will be complemented by a pavilion designed by HOK founder Gyo Obata along with St. Louis–based design firm Arcturis. The Agriculture Pavilion, the main interior space of the project, takes formal cues from typical farming implements, such as plow blades or scythes. The building will house exhibitions, event space, and a set of underground classrooms forming the Ag Learning Center. The 50,000-square-foot, $7.3-million-dollar, project focuses on the latest in agricultural technology, economics, science, and culture. Many of the 40 planned exhibits, much like their topic, will change seasonally, highlighting the growing and harvest cycles of the Midwest. “This will explore new ideas, new thoughts, and new ways of looking at things. And they’ll change with some level of frequency,” explained Bert Vescolani, CEO and president of the Science Center, in a statement. The main focus of exhibits in this space will be on agronomics and the relationship of produce, commodities, and consumer practices affecting the food supply. Every aspect of the pavilion is also designed to contribute to the learning environment, to include bathrooms which graphically interpret water resources. The project sits on the former site of the now-deflated Exploradome, and will include indoor and outdoor exhibits. Along with working farming equipment such as tractors and automated milking machines, live chickens, honey bees, and a working greenhouse will allow visitors to get their hands dirty learning about backyard farming. The greenhouse will include hydroponics and aquaponics, using live fish in a closed system of feeding, fertilizing, and growing food. The Fermentation Station will highlight the farm to mug journey of beer, in a working brewery, along with cheese and wine making. Other spaces include an orchard, two beehive areas, a seed library, large scale photographic farming map of Missouri and Illinois, and a Rain Cloud Room, where it rains every day, rain or shine.