The Science Museum of Virginia, located in a former train station along West Broad Street in the City of Richmond, is a beacon of discovery in Virginia. First opened 40 years ago, the museum strives to serve as a catalyst for inspiration and place that sparks curiosity. The Science Museum attracts hundreds of thousands of guests annually through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive technologies. This popularity also posed challenges for the institution and created a need to expand the existing facility in order to provide greater opportunities to meet the Science Museum’s mission.
Under the leadership of Rich Conti, the Science Museum embarked on an ambitious campaign to renovate the existing museum and expand with the addition of the Dewey Gottwald Center, a $12 million facility that offers dynamic spaces for events and meetings. Highlighting the success of this project, it was recently honored by Engineering News-Record as the ENR Mid-Atlantic Best Project Winner in the Cultural/Worship category. This recognition is an impressive validation of the museum’s vision.
Among the team members honored by ENR were W.M. Jordan Company as the general contractor and BCWH as the architect. Draper Aden Associates was recognized for its critical role as the engineering firm tasked with site design for the project. The design/build team worked collaboratively with Conti and the Science Museum staff to deliver creative solutions.
The first addition to the museum’s campus since the Dome Theater in 1983, the Dewey Gottwald Center’s sleek steel and glass structure offers a truly inspirational sense of wonder. It’s a 21,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility that allows the Science Museum to grow by serving as a location for large exhibitions and to attract new visitors as a venue for community events.
The project team was recognized by ENR for construction and design quality, the ability to overcome challenges, contribution to the industry and community, and safety. Among the specific challenges that Draper Aden addressed with its site design included provisions for abnormal rain events, grading design for the site, and relief points to ensure that water moved around the structure, and not in it, during heavy rain events. The firm also re-designed the site during construction to accommodate a new plaza to the west of the Dewey Gottwald Center. BCWH designed the plaza while Draper Aden handled the site design for grading and drainage.
Mitigating stormwater and sewer concerns proved complex as well. For example, the Dewey Gottwald Center’s footprint covered a major existing storm sewer. Draper Aden’s team relocated the sewer out of the footprint and routed it under the building connector. Stormwater detention was another challenge that the firm successfully addressed. Since the museum’s new building connected to the City of Richmond’s combined sewer system, stormwater detention became a critical requirement. Leveraging its extensive experience, Draper Aden designed an in-line system that utilized the proposed storm sewer pipe to temporarily detain water to reduce the peak flow rate during major storm events.
The Dewey Gottwald Center is yet another example of Draper Aden’s commitment to leave a Lasting Positive Impact in the communities we serve. The Science Museum is a treasured institution and this project helps to ensure that the museum continues to inspire, spark creativity, and deliver wonder.