This $700,000 plan will try to sort out a Charlotte museum’s future

Discovery Place concept
Discovery Place concept

Charlotte City Council on Monday voted to award a $700,000 contract to a pair of architectural firms charged with drawing up a new master plan for the Discovery Place Science Museum in uptown.

Charlotte-based Jenkins-Peer Architects will work with New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro over the next year on plans to update, modernize and re-envision the museum. Discovery Place opened at Sixth and Tryon streets in 1981, and officials say the facility is outdated and cramped.

“DS+R is one of the world’s leading architectural design firms, well-known for their urban place-making as well as major civic and cultural buildings and campuses,” said Catherine Wilson Horne, Discovery Place CEO, in a statement. The company has worked on facilities such as the Lincoln Center in New York City and the Broad, a Los Angeles art museum.

Expected to be complete in late 2018, the new master plan will lay out “an inspiring conceptual design for the facility that will communicate the Museum’s mission to provide the community with educational and immersive opportunities in science, technology and nature.”

Discovery Place wrapped up a $31.6 million renovation in 2010, funded by the city and county. But Horne has said the buildings are still confusing, with multiple elevators and lobbies that don’t connect. The facility is owned by the city of Charlotte.

“We scramble to find places to put our people,” Horne told City Council this year. “Our 1980s building was designed to educate adults with the science and technology of the ’80s and the ’90s... Today, our problem is one of space.”

Officials also hope that renovating Discovery Place will help revitalize North Tryon Street, which has lagged South Tryon Street over the past decade. There are also plans to demolish and reconstruct the Main Library campus across North Tryon Street, turning it into part of a dense, mixed-use development.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo