Museum Showcases the Future

by Thomas Normile, (M.ASCE), Struct. Engr.; Geddes Brecher Qualls Cunningham, Philadelphia, PA,
Rita Robison, Associate Editor; CE Magazine,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 3, Pg. 60-63

Document Type: Feature article


On May 4 in Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute's new wing, called the Futures Center, will open to the public. When the institute's neoclassic main buiding was completed in 1932, it lacked the major exhibition hall planned for the southwest portion. Now a skylit atrium finishes the previously incomplete circulation system. Adding the new wing presented several structural challenges and produced some esthetic innovations: The central column is nonstructural, topped by a sculpture shaped like a perforated bucket. The floor grid is skewed twice and the wind bracing had to be hidden in the walls. An exterior stairway couldn't be anchored to its wall and on the roof is a five-sided pyramid. The new wing had to be dynamic but at the same time could not overwhelm the original building. Further complicating the design was the need to build theater and exhibition spaces over a four-story garage and integrate the two differential structural systems.

Subject Headings: Public buildings | Walls | Aesthetics | Innovation | Columns | Floors | Grid systems | Skewness

Services: Buy this book/Buy this article


Return to search