carnegie science center
Courtesy Carnegie Science Center.

The Carnegie Science Center has announced a $21 million expansion along the North Shore that enhances the riverfront and provides lots of new classroom space for kids. The 48,000-square-foot three-story addition will also include Smithsonian-quality exhibition space, special event space, and terraces on the ground and third floors.

The addition also allows the Science Center to take better advantage of its location along the North Shore. “When we began to look at options to increase classrooms and add traveling exhibit gallery space it was obvious to us that we wanted to orient eastward,” says Ann Metzger, co-director of Carnegie Science Center. “We wanted to open up the new space toward the city.”

carnegie science center river
View across the Allegheny River towards the new Carnegie Science Center expansion.

The riverfront will be completely redone from designs by landscape architects LaQuatra Bonci. Trails and ramps will be brought up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards and new seating areas will be added. The first-floor terrace will extend from the cafeteria toward the river trail and provide an amenity for trail riders to stop for a break, and access restrooms as well as food and drink.

Landscaping will feature rain gardens and a stormwater management system that will be used as a demonstration project for the first-floor classrooms which will all directly connect to the riverfront as part of the new design by Indovina Associates Architects.

The Science Center started planning their expansion in 2009 when co-directors Ron Baillie and Ann Metzger realized that interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education programs were outpacing their physical space. They are also adding 14,000 square feet of exhibit space so they can bring national exhibits to Pittsburgh which currently bypass the city right now for locations with larger exhibit space like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

There will be nine new STEM-focused classrooms on the first floor, five of which will open up to the riverfront. The new classrooms will allow for computer coding, chemistry—there will be a chem wet lab—and biology with a focus on river science.

Core exhibits will remain open during construction which is expected to be completed by Spring 2018.

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.