Photo: Four of the five women behind the construction of Museum Lab. From left, Christi Saunders, Chris Cieslak, Jane Werner and Julie Eizenberg. Not pictured: Karen Larrimer.
This story first appeared on NEXTPittsburgh, which publishes Kidsburgh.
Imagine taking a long-neglected building that has aged through Pittsburgh summers and winters since the 1800s — and has stood empty and decaying since a lightning strike more than a decade ago — and transforming it into an inspiring, healthy and sustainable, state-of-the-art laboratory and museum for 21st-century students.
And do it on a budget. In fewer than 18 months.
To make things even more complicated, imagine that each time you think you finally have the architectural plans laid out in detail for this remarkable old/new space, you discover surprises. Good ones crop up, like hidden, 19th-century coffered ceilings and long-forgotten oil paintings abandoned in this former Carnegie Library, but somehow still intact. But troublesome surprises keep erupting as well, like unexpected water leaks that led to hidden black mold in the years when no one was caring for this stunning structure and that now seems nearly impossible to fix.
And whether a given day brings good discoveries or bad ones, know that every surprise means the design plans have to be reconceived and redrawn, and the work of everyone — from the architect and the construction project manager, to the museum’s project director and its executive director, to the chairperson of the charitable initiative to fund this project — is impacted.
This is the story of Museum Lab, a sprawling new addition to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh complex, which will open soon as part of the country’s largest cultural campus for families.
Read the entire story here.