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San Diego Children's Museum Art-Focused

Credits: ©2011 San Diego Children's Museum

The San Diego Children’s Museum has a saw-tooth roof that features photovoltaic panels that generate 144,000 kWh of electricity per year, about half the building’s electricity needs. Glass walls and north-facing clerestory windows provide natural daylight to the interiors, and sixty percent of the building utilizes a natural ventilation system. Fresh air enters the museum through lower-level windows and doors, and as it heats up, rises and exits the building through upper-level openings and a solar cooling chimney. A computer fine-tunes the comfort level by opening or closing windows and louvers as needed. Exposed concrete construction provides a thermal mass that protects against large indoor temperature swings, and passive solar gain provides all winter heating in the public spaces. Additionally, the 50,000-square-foot, three-story facility uses waterless urinals and recycled content for wall tiles, countertops, restroom partitions and floor coverings, and even furniture such as desks made of recycled road signs and a conference table of recycled steel. The building includes a 17-foot concrete entrance bridge, tilt-up concrete panels, and a glass-enclosed elevator shaft that functions as a heating and cooling tower. The Museum is a series of transparent, flexible spaces that visibly expose the building’s construction and design. The Children’s Museum provides learning and exploration spaces based on innovative fine art rather than designed educational exhibits, so the building has more the feel of an artist’s loft. Nearly doubling in square footage from its previous space, the building contains 13,000 sq ft. of galleries, a public lobby, retail stores, indoor and outdoor cafes, activity areas, a 2,500 sq ft. performance space, and a 6,000 sq ft. educational center and offices for the museum staff.


San Diego Children

The San Diego Children's Museum’s saw-tooth-shaped roof features photovoltaic panels that generate 144,000 kWh of electricity per year, about half of the museum’s electricity needs. ©2008 Brighton Noying

The Children's Museum was constructed using “Tilt Up” concrete walls. This method of Architectural Concrete “Tilt Up” is unique to the downtown area. Because of area restraints, this project required utilizing one of the largest cranes on the west coast to tilt panels weighing up to 218,000 pounds, and place them over 200 feet away from the crane.

Modeling Thermal and Airflow
Paul Linden, professor in at UCSD in mechanical and aerospace engineering and principal at NaturalWorks http://natural-works.com/projects/sdcm.php, used principles of fluid dynamics to model ambient air currents as part of his contribution to design of the new Children's Museum of San Diego. He performed simulations for thermal, outdoor airflow, and passive heating and cooling system design. The California Energy Commission funded Linden's participation with design engineers at Rob Wellington Quigley, the California architecture firm that designed the building. The atrium-style building does not have conventional heating and cooling; instead, it relies on computer-controlled windows and Linden's sophisticated model of the prevailing breezes in the city's Marina District that will pass through those windows as they open and close under automatic control. A 92-foot-tall elevator tower acts as a cooling chimney exhausting interior air as sunlight warms it. During the hottest weeks of the year, outside air will replace the inside air ten times per hour.

The museum exhibition space consists of two galleries on the first and second floors and an atrium that extends over the two floors. There are openings on each floor and at the roof level, and a solar chimney. The assessment of the ventilation system consisted of an initial analysis of the stack-driven ventilation. It was found that using only stack-driven ventilation led to predictions of significant periods of overheating in the museum. An analysis of the weather data then showed that there is a high correlation between the days of high temperature and a moderate prevailing wind - the sea breeze. Consequently, it was decided to use this wind to supplement the stack-driven flow. As a result additional openings were placed in the façade, and the solar chimney opening was oriented to be in suction during these periods.

Additionally, a building management system and a control strategy were developed to optimize the performance of the building. As a consequence of these measures the number of predicted hot hours decreased significantly, and the results suggest that the building will operate satisfactorily without any "mechanical" heating or cooling.

Solar Power
Kyocera Solar, Inc., a world-leading supplier of environmentally friendly photovoltaic (PV) systems, completed the 96.4-kilowatt rooftop solar electric generating system atop the San Diego Children’s Museum. The system, composed of 576 Kyocera 200-watt PV modules, was designed and installed by Independent Energy Solutions, Inc. (IES) of Vista, California, and is expected to generate approximately 136,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. Solar energy is an important part of the museum’s new architecture and commitment to sustainable design for the community.

The following article outlines the San Diego Children's Museum's art programs:
New and Just for Kids

San Diego's New Children's Museum makes art fun.

By Karen Kenyon, The Christian Science Monitor, August 2008

When you walk across the pink bridge, you can see yourself reflected in the mirror on the left side of the bridge (that is, if you're under 4 feet tall). That's your first indication that this is a bridge to fun! It's the entrance to the New Children's Museum in San Diego, which opened this spring. Once you're inside, you'll find that 19 artists have created special installation exhibits just for you to experience! Six of the artists are from Mexico. (San Diego is only a few miles from the border.)

In fact, the artist who created the bridge, Maurcy Gomulicki, lives and works in both Mexico City and in his homeland, Poland. The first things you may notice when you step into the museum are other kids scooting around on "Legways," artist Roman de Salvo's answer to the adult Segways – except Legways move with kid power.

And look – on one wall, attached high above your head are vacuum cleaners which emit harmonica sounds when you pass by and they sense your motion. This playful art piece was designed by French composer Céleste Boursier-Mougenot.

You'll see a textile forest created by artist Tanya Aquiniga. This is a forest made of cloth, from mushrooms to trees to fallen leaves. It's especially enjoyable for very young children.

If you want to paint or make things from clay, you'll find several spots

to do so. For example, an old Volkswagen beetle waits on the lower patio for you to slosh paint on it. Imagine painting a car any color you want to! Then there is a clay station that enables you to create your own pottery – bowls, butterflies, airplanes, whatever you can think up.

You'll even find a wall-size chalkboard, where you can draw and write to your heart's content.

Upstairs, you'll find a colorfully painted climbing wall. You'll also discover a room full of mattresses and tire-shaped pillows! You can jump and jump and have pillow fights – a great way to release energy.

Also upstairs is a very special house, designed and built by artist and sculptor, Ernest Silva. It is a 12-by-20-foot house with a tin roof, painted in bright colors of red, blue, yellow, and orange. Thanks to a special pump, rain falls on the house and it makes a wonderful sound on the tin roof. Children can experience the cozy experience of being inside the Rain House, while they play or listen to stories told in English and in Spanish. On the inside and outside of the house are painted pictures of birds, along with colorful cross-hatching, and words, such as: "a bird in Tijuana [Mexico] singing to a ... bird in San Diego." (San Diego and Tijuana are right across the border from each other.) This house is just for kids: You can enter the Rain House through a keyhole-shaped opening that's too small for your parents to squeeze through.

Right now, kids are really enjoying exploring the New Children's Museum. But when they come back in a few months, they may be able to do even more, Future plans include writing and art workshops in the Rain House, and the exchange of artwork and poems with children in Tijuana.

This museum emphasizes the visual arts. While many children's museums focus on science and other educational exhibits, the New Children's Museum has invited artists to create exhibits in which kids can participate and be part of the artwork. The concept is based on artist Allan Kaprow's ideas about art connecting with life. The idea of his "Happenings" in the 1960s was that art and life are fluid and connected. Each year new artists will be invited to create other exhibits that will be springboards for youngsters' imagination.

The first Children's Museum in San Diego was opened in 1983 in donated space in a shopping mall. In 1994, it moved to a 50-year-old warehouse downtown. The museum closed in that location in 2002 because of redevelopment. At that point it became a "museum without walls."

Now has its own "green" building, designed by architect Rob Quigley. It's the largest green building in San Diego, with natural ventilation and light. The New Children's Museum takes advantage of San Diego's mild weather by using indoor and outdoor space. For example, the clay studio is on the front open-air patio area of the building.

Every second Sunday, the museum is free.

The museum's multinational approach makes a connection with children and people across the border in Mexico and in other countries. In fact, it supports the idea that art has no borders.

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  San Diego Children's Museum Natural Ventilation System Design (299 kb)

  San Diego Children's Museum Savings by Design Article 2009 (1,387 kb)

  San Diego Children's Museum Green Design Poster (10,709 kb)


San Diego Children's Museum