Construction of CT Science Center Heads into Final Phases
BY ANDY HART
February 26, 2009
The external scaffolding has been removed from the Connecticut Science Center (CSC) and the gleaming new facility has become a prominent part of the Downtown Hartford skyline. Inside, workers are laying down carpet, installing cabinets and finishing all the other tasks that have to be completed before the CSC finally opens.
CSC officials say the $160 million facility is about 90 percent complete and is expected to open to the public sometime in May or June.
Although it has yet to open, the CSC is already becoming a popular tourist attraction. CSC spokesman Aaron Wartner said the Center has already sold well over 1,000 premier memberships and season passes. “With an average of four people per membership, that puts us at about 4,000 card holders already,” he said. For details on obtaining a membership, go to www.ctsciencecenter.org/membership.php. In its first year of operation, the CSC is hoping to attract approximately 400,000 visitors, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the state.
The CSC is one of the four major components of the Adriaen’s Landing complex, which is located on the eastern edge of Downtown Hartford. The Connecticut Convention Center and the Marriott Hotel, which lay just south of the CSC on Columbus Boulevard, are already open. Construction has finally begun on the final component, a retail plaza known as Front Street.
The CSC rises 180 feet above the Connecticut River with impressive views of both the river and Downtown Hartford.
The main public entrance to the CSC will be on Columbus Boulevard. There will also be direct access from Mortensen Riverfront Plaza as well as the rest of the Adriaen’s Landing. The ground floor includes the Pfizer Discovery and Education Center, which boast four education labs and a community room. A grand staircase provides access to the CSC’s upper six floors.
Architecturally, one of the most striking features of the CSC is “Science Alley,” which is located on the facility’s lobby level. A glassed-in, sun-lit room, Science Alley has a soaring, 140-foot ceiling below which will hang a dramatic sculpture by Connecticut artist Tim Prentice. No admission will be charged to those visiting Science Alley or the gift shop and cafe located on the same floor.
Tickets for the rest of the CSC can be purchased at the entrance south of Science Alley. Visitors can then proceed into the KidSpace Children’s Gallery, which is designed for youngsters ages 3 – 7. It will feature a water-play exhibit, hands-on activities and a reading nook managed by the Hartford Public Library. To the west of the Children’s Gallery is the CSC’s 3-D Digital Theater where over 200 people can watch science-themed 3D films on a 30 by 40 foot screen.
The two floors above the lobby level include administrative offices and Travelers Science Hall, a banquet room with 20-foot high ceilings and a glass wall facing the Connecticut River and the CSC’s garden plaza. This space can accommodate up to 100 people for an event; the entire building can accommodate up to 1,500 guests for special events.
Floors four, five and six are dedicated to 150-plus hands-on exhibits in 10 galleries covering 40,000 square feet. The CSC’s fourth floor includes a terrace with a stunning view of the Connecticut River as well as innovative and interactive exhibits featuring the principles of motion, sight and sound. The south side of the fourth floor will house two to three national and international traveling exhibits.
Young astronomers will probably want to head straight for the fifth floor which will have a gallery filled with displays on the universe around us and space travel. Other galleries on this floor will feature dozens of exhibits on Connecticut inventions, health and sports.
A roof garden dominates the north side of the CSC’s top floor. On the south side are three gigantic galleries specializing in exhibits on the Connecticut River, clean energy and planet Earth.