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Arts & Culture

Council OKs $700K Contract To Plan Big Makeover At Discovery Place

A January presentation to the City Council envisioned a redesigned facade at Discovery Place on North Tryon Street.
Discovery Place
A January presentation to the City Council envisioned a redesigned facade at Discovery Place on North Tryon Street.

The Charlotte City Council on Monday approved a $700,000 contract to develop a master plan for the Discovery Place Science Museum.  Jenkins-Peer Architects will study how to modernize and expand the 36-year-old museum on North Tryon Street. 

The city says the firm will evaluate Discovery Place's existing facility and look at science museum trends around the country. The study will take until late 2018, and be paid for with tourism tax revenue.

It's expected to include conceptual designs for a makeover of the building's facade and interior, and recommendations for improving the museum's business model.

In a press release Tuesday morning, Discovery Place also announced a second architect - New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR), which will lead the design. DSR previously has helped turn a 1.5 mile abandoned rail line in New York City into the High Line, a public park; nad designed renovations at Lincoln Center in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.  

Jenkins Peer has done projects for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and designed the football stadium at UNC CHarlotte.

Discovery Place said the architects will hold community workshops, analyze trends and models in science centers, and look at the museum's future needs.  

Discovery Place CEO Catherine Horne said the firms will play a key role in the North Tryon Vision Plan, the city's broader effort to transform the North Tryon Street area.

“We believe they bring a global perspective that will help define the North Tryon district as Charlotte’s center where curiosity begins, knowledge is advanced and innovation live," she said in a press release.

In January, the City Council approved $950,000 for the planning, including the contract approved Monday.

It's too early to say when any work might begin. A Discovery Place spokeswoman on Tuesday called the master plan "the first step" in a seven- to 10-year process. 

Discovery Place last had a major renovation in 2010, and got a new education studio in 2014.  About 828,000 people visit the museum annually, according to a January presentation to the City Council. That makes it the fourth largest cultural attraction in the state, the museum says. 


See more information, including a presentation, on the Charlotte City Council agenda for Nov. 13, 2017.

Nov. 14, 2017, DiscoveryPlace.org, "Discovery Place Announces Architects for Uptown Master Plan."