Carnegie Science Center

  • Pittsburgh, USA
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To give the Carnegie Science Center a strong and positive image, it is necessary to part with the weak and negative. The image of the existing building is neither positive nor strong. It therefore needs to be modified, and hopefully, forgotten.
The visibility of the current site from the principal points of view in Pittsburgh is poor. It needs a boost, and will even more so once the new stadium has imposed its new scale on the Science Center and cast its shadow upon it.
Consequently, I propose to create a new landmark building that absorbs the existing one and makes it disappear, putting in its place a frank, complex and singular architecture that will advance on the waterfront, conquer the view of the city and become Pittsburgh’s new architectural symbol.


The new building’s impact will be reinforced by its height, slightly greater than that of the neighboring stadium. Another advantage of this solution is that it liberates space on the ground for a large park.
A linear multilevel parking deck along the site border will neutralize the visual presence of the stadium and create a linear access promenade along the new park.
The park will be a new type of landscape that cultivates a relationship with water through thick, dense, terraced vegetation, a veritable forest of adventures where one can discover industrial ruins, labyrinths, light gardens, scientific greenhouses, small waterfalls… The park will form an integral part of the museum visit. The new building will be a belvedere over the city, its river, and the new planted landscape.
Accessible from a new two-level entrance hall with a link to the parking garage, the museum will be visited from top to bottom. Large elevators will whisk the visitor to the top of the building, from whence he or she can descend through the different exhibits, use a direct link to the education levels, or gain access to the different theaters.
The existing building will be fitted with new accessories : ceiling grids, shading devices, display walls and terraces. The exterior will be repainted in the same colors as the new building to complete its absorption by it. The colors are those of steel in relationship with the history of pittsburgh, and also with the metal architecture of the new project, with its cantilevers, stacked objects, structures, and stairways.
The colors are those of Pittsburgh’s steel structures : the pale gold of the bridges, and elephant gray. Seen from Pittsburgh, the building will appear monochrome; seen from the park and northeast it will appear a monochrome anthracite gray.
The glass walls of the panoramic restaurant at the building’s summit will be tinted in shades of amber and gold, giving the visitor an optimistic view reminiscent of certain sunglasses.
The new building’s architecture is composed directly from its space diagram. Flexibility is built into the concept. It is an architecture of effectiveness and an aesthetic of effectiveness, guaranteed to have a double impact, both as a major presence in Pittsburgh’s landscape and as an indelible trace on the visitor’s memory.


Jean Nouvel