Kidspace Children's Museum
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Facts about Kidspace Children's Museum
Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc.
Michael Maltzan, Design Principal
Timothy Williams, Project Designer
Melanie McArtor, Project Manager
Owen Tang, Senior Technical Architect
John A. Martin & Associates, Inc.
Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer:
Innovative Engineering Group
Kocher & Schirra
Lam Partners Inc.
Nancy Power & Associates, Inc.
The Portico Group
Lexington Scenery & Props
Matt Construction Corporation
Last updated: December 19, 2013