Architecture students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have big ideas how the Museum of Innovation and Science’s building could be enhanced.
They imagine the space with massive windows and graceful curves, with an addition that soars skyward or a wing that tucks into the hill sloping down to Nott Terrace.
The public can get a glimpse of their creative designs in a new exhibit, “Re-
At a glance
Reimagining miSci, an exhibit of conceptual designs for the Museum of Innovation and Science created by architecture students from RPI, will be on display at miSci, 15 Nott Terrace Heights, through Nov. 23.
imagining miSci,” which is on display through Nov. 23 at the museum, 15 Nott Terrace Heights.
Last year, second-year architecture students spent a semester coming up with design schemes that could transform the dated, hard-to-see building into something sure to catch the eye. Three-dimensional models of the 10 designs deemed most compelling are included in the display at miSci, along with design plans for about 50 others.
The project was initiated by Neil Golub, Price Chopper Supermarkets’ executive chairman of the board, who has assisted with efforts to transform the former Schenectady Museum into a regional hub of science and innovation.
“Neil is sort of a visionary person, and he realized right away that we really need to have an entrance on Nott Terrace, and that was why he initiated the whole process, to get people thinking about it, and this project does that,” said miSci’s executive director, William “Mac” Sudduth.
As part of the project, students were asked to consider the present facility’s limitations, including a lack of visibility, its distance from passing traffic, limited exhibition space and an under-utilized landscape.
“You’ve got this terrific institution in a slightly antiquated building that resides up on the hill and is separate from the fabric and the kind of main area of Schenectady,” explained Evan Douglis, dean of RPI’s school of architecture.
This was the students’ first attempt at designing a building, he noted.
The architects-to-be came up with a variety of creative ways to address the museum’s issues and enhance the venue. Large windows allow plenty of light into Jacob Wigton’s design.
“It allows the outside of the building to really become part of the gallery, so that in a way, downtown Schenectady is on exhibit inside of the museum, and at the same time, the museum is on exhibit from the downtown,” he explained.
Sen Zhang connected miSci’s existing building to Nott Terrace with a modern-looking addition and thinned out the landscaping to provide a better view of the city.
“Visitors will be able to see the relationship between miSci and the GE headquarters in the distance in Schenectady,” he said.
Amy Gecelter created an open floor plan and included a roof garden in her design, while Dillon Webster incorporated curved shapes, including a tentacle-like design that would welcome visitors at the museum’s entrance.
“I’d like to think that no matter how experimental and fresh and dynamic and exotic some of the schemes might be, if you look closely at them, there are some very, very compelling ideas that could be extracted out and redirected in a kind of strategic way,” Douglis said. “I don’t see the work as pure fantasy. I actually think there are some very innovative and ingenious discoveries that emerged.”
Although renovations are not in the immediate plan at miSci, Sudduth said he’s always looking toward the future.
“I think the primary objective for this particular exercise was: How do we get the museum down to have a face on Nott Terrace so it’s part of the downtown, really. And we’re still thinking along those lines. We’d love to have people be able to enter the museum from down there and come up here,” he said.
Another goal is to find a way to make the most of the museum’s proximity to Vale Park, he noted.