Franklin Institute breaks ground on Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion

The Franklin Institute has broken ground on an ambitious new state-of-the-art building addition, the first major expansion project for the museum in more than two decades. The 53,000 square foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion will host a cutting- edge new core exhibit entitled Your Brain, an expanded education center with integrated learning technologies, a modern conference center, and a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery. The addition is named in grateful recognition of the leadership and generosity of Nicholas and Athena Karabots, whose $10 million transformative gift marks the largest individual contribution ever to the science museum.

“The Franklin Institute is extremely thankful to the Karabotses and all of our many supporters who have helped make this day a reality,” said Dr. Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO, The Franklin Institute. “Today’s groundbreaking marks a new beginning for the museum, as we look to the future and the many exciting possibilities through which we can continue to inspire a passion for science learning”

With this new addition the Institute will be able to broaden its educational impact, specifically through programs that provide opportunities for children from underserved communities to positively engage with science and technology. The facility will also enable the Institute to continue attracting premiere traveling exhibits. In recent years, The Franklin Institute’s ability to mount successful traveling exhibitions has garnered international acclaim for Philadelphia while creating a measurable economic impact on the region’s economy.

Housed within the new Karabots Pavilion will be a striking new core exhibit entitled Your Brain. The revolutionary 8,500 square foot exhibit will highlight one of the frontiers of science that is revealing new questions every day: the study and understanding of the human brain. Delving into a range of topics in neuroscience and psychology, the exhibit shows how this evolving science is having a profound impact on our personal and societal decisions. Your Brain will be located in a gallery named in memory of Frank Baldino, Jr. a great friend of the Institute.

The building itself has been designed by SaylorGregg Architects and will achieve LEED Silver certification for its modern “green” building design and construction. Skanska USA was selected earlier this year to head the construction of the project. Total design, construction and fit-out for the building addition will generate 150,000 hours of work and 125 jobs in construction, design and consulting in Philadelphia, as well as 20 additional full-time or full-time equivalent jobs at The Franklin Institute.

This major renovation addresses the Museum’s multiple programmatic needs while also respecting the strong neoclassical style of the original building. The exterior of the building will be clad in the same Indiana limestone as the original building, and will incorporate decidedly modern features, such as extensive landscaping that mitigates stormwater drainage and a dramatic stainless steel kinetic “shimmer wall” by artist Ned Kahn.
The new building and Your Brain exhibit are the final capital initiatives of a comprehensive strategic plan that included the restoration of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in 2008 and the opening of two new core exhibits, Changing Earth and Electricity, in 2010. To date, the Museum’s Inspire Science fundraising campaign total is $60 million, toward a goal of $64.7 million.

The Franklin Institute Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education.

The Franklin Institute 222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 215.448.1200
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