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Stepping Stones Museum

Completion Year: 2010
Program: Stepping Stones Museum Alterations and Additions
Beinfield Project Team: Bruce Beinfield FAIA, James Wassell, Fritz Morris AIA, Andrew Bartolotta AIA, Jessica Sansevera
General Contractor: A. Pappajohn Company
Landscape Architect: Aris W. Stalis, ASLA
Structural Engineer: Edward Stanley Engineers LLCAwards & Honors:Awards & Honors:

Awards & Honors:
2011 United States Green Building Council
LEED Gold Certification – New Construction

2011 Connecticut Green Building Council
Green Advocate Award

2011 Connecticut Green Building Council
Award of Merit

The Architecture of the new wing of the Museum for Children acknowledges that the magic of energizing young minds happens within its walls. The building form is a simple recycled steel box, with an erector set of parts attached, which add architectural and educational content. This new wing maintains a dialogue with the original Centerbrook Architects designed structure, while orienting to a different set of priorities.

The Gold LEED Certified building is a celebration of natural energies, and the magic of discovery. The building harnesses energy from the sun and transmits it into the building through a series of photovoltaic panels that animate the facade. The result is a whimsical building that speaks of possibilities and marks the museum as a place of magic. The joys of childhood are expressed with the slightly mischievous use of corrugated metal siding that wiggles across the facade like wrapping paper on a gift box. Energy collection devices provide the ribbons and bows, while layering the structure with educational content.

The building opens up to an exterior courtyard sheltered by a fabric tensile structure to create a dynamic performance venue for young audiences.

The project team was committed to sustainability from the outset, an attitude that informed every decision along the way, from design through construction and beyond. The unique function of the institution as a children’s museum also offers the opportunity to educate about these goals on a daily, functioning basis. The multi-media theatre and communication facilities allow two-way communication between the children at the Museum and other children around the world via a forty-foot convex screen. An interior telescope lets children view the plant and animal life flourishing on the green roof above.

In addition to the structure itself, three garden “follies” use local solar, wind and water energy to delight and instruct museum-goers. This colorful set of kinetic sculptures demonstrates simple principles of energy generation while creating percussive music.

Attendance at the Museum has increased dramatically since the new wing opened in November of 2010. In addition to Gold LEED Certification, the Museum has been awarded the 2011 Green Advocate Award from the US Green Building Council, and the building received an Award of Merit from the CT Chapter of the US Green Building Council.

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