Kidspace Children's Museum
Michael Maltzan Architecture

January 03, 2003 /

Pasadena, California, USA

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

The new Kidspace Museum is located in Brookside Park on three acres of gently sloping, forested land.

This landmark site includes three historic Fannie Morrison Horticultural Center buildings constructed in 1938. A fourth building, at the eastern length of the site, was lost to fire in 1984. In its place, the new buildings redefine the existing courtyard while providing views into the park between and through the new structure.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

The project introduces distinct new buildings that redefine the existing courtyard, and relationships to the surrounding context, allowing for views out into the park between and through the new structures.

Additionally, new connective structures weave through the rehabilitated historic buildings. Externally, the new buildings provide minimal views to the inner life of the museum.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Visitors to the Museum arrive primarily by foot from the large parking areas 300 yards immediately to the west. Within the existing Center's historic entry, a "tube" which pierces through the building transports arriving visitors directly from the park onto a raised plinth that sits within the interior courtyard.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Main entrances from each of the architectural elements purposely lead onto the courtyard to encourage visitors to move back and forth between enclosed, programmed spaces and open courtyard vistas.

Beneath the new traveling exhibit galleries, the sloping courtyard leads to a 100-seat, multiform theater. When weather permits, large sliding glass doors transform the space into a semi-outdoor amphitheater.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Organized as a bundled series of layers and "slots", the new building provides deep views through multiple volumes of program and activity, creating potential for both focused or singular activity, as well as creating zones or precincts where programmatic overlaps can be developed. This strategy of blurred spatial and program distinctions extends to the sectional characteristics of the building design, while allowing children to occupy unobstructed visual vantage points.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Reinforcing the Museum's pedagogical goals, movement through the buildings allows for both a continuous "narrative" procession, as well as a series of "short circuits" or multiple direct routes to specific exhibits.  These diverse and possible routes create a spatial organization that allows for diverse learning styles and focus to ultimately determine and define the experience of the museum.

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

A tilted tower element in the northwest corner houses a climbing structure that inspires children with a sense of discovery and adventure as it reveals fresh visual perspectives of the surrounding context.

Administrative offices are located in an existing building directly across the courtyard from the new museum, while the front building houses an early child development classroom, a cafe and a gift shop.

Sensitivity to building heights, alignments and views creates interesting relationships between the existing and the new, and materials used in the existing buildings are repeated in the new structures at differing scales and textures.

Sketch courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture 
Process Model

Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture 
Site Plan

Facts about Kidspace Children's Museum


15,000 ft2

New Construction:

30,000 ft2


Kidspace Museum


Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc.

Project Team:

Michael Maltzan, Design Principal
Timothy Williams, Project Designer
Melanie McArtor, Project Manager
Stacy Nakano
Job Captain
Owen Tang, Senior Technical Architect
Yong Kim
Steven Lee
Rebecca Rudolph
Samantha Whitney
Manual Blanco
Doug Heaton
Krista Scheib

Structural Engineer:

John A. Martin & Associates, Inc.

Civil Engineer:

Mollenhauer Group

Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer:

Innovative Engineering Group

Electrical Engineer:

Kocher & Schirra

Lighting Designer:

Lam Partners Inc.

Landscape Designer:

Nancy Power & Associates, Inc.

Exhibit Designer:

The Portico Group

Exhibit Fabricator:

Lexington Scenery & Props


Matt Construction Corporation

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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