Green Miami Science Center Becoming A Reality

Forget Orlando. Miami could soon give tourists to the Sunshine State a run for their money once the new location of the Miami Science Center (MiaSci) opens. In the works for quite awhile now, the museum is slated for construction in late February. MiaSci will be centered around an indoor and outdoor “living core” of terrestrial and aquatic spaces, featuring a 600,000-gallon aquarium, a full dome 3-D planetarium and hands-on exhibits.

Fittingly the building, which will feature the latest in cutting edge sustainable practices, will itself be built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council‘s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for energy use, waste management and environmental impact.  The U.S. Department of Energy has funded a number of studies to help make the building more energy-efficient and a weather station will be installed on site to provide information about amounts of sunlight, wind and rain available.

image via Miami Science Center

The Museum will include an Energy Center to monitor the green building’s performance, including everything from water consumption to the amount of renewable energy being produced on site. And of course, those monitoring systems will be incorporated in interactive displays for visitors to view.

The $275 million dollar project is being paid for by a mix of private donations and public funding. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation just committed a challenge grant of $10 million to the Museum. The grant must be matched with an additional $20 million in funding. The donation is a way to encourage additional community support.

image via Miami Science Center

“Our gift to the science museum, equal in size to an earlier gift to the art museum that will stand by its side, is a recognition of the importance of science education and of the museum’s leadership,” Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation, said in a statement. “Knight’s challenge grant is intended to galvanize support and accelerate the exciting community transformation at Museum Park.”

The new grant means fundraising for the project is in the home stretch, given that $70 million in private funding has been raised out of the $100 million goal. The remaining costs are being paid for government sources and by Miami-Dade County’s Building Better Communities Bond Program. The project was overwhelmingly approved by local voters in 2004.

Grimshaw Architects will be designing the 250,000-square-foot complex that is meant to be a shining example of ecological and sustainability principles, harnessing energy from water, sun, wind and museum visitor energy to power exhibits and conserve resources. The estimated completion date is early 2015.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.