The Exploratorium — San Francisco, CA
New Home for Beloved Museum
- 230,000 SF
- EHDD Architecture
Page & Turnbull
- Nibbi Brothers General Contractors
- Wilson Meany
- Port of San Francisco
- Sustainable Benchmarks
- LEED Platinum
Net Zero Energy
The Exploratorium relocated to Piers 15 & 17 on the Embarcadero. The existing Pier 15 building is a historic structure and required substantial renovation to support exhibit space, a 250-seat theater (the Kanbar Forum), and office facilities. The site constraints of the pier coupled with interactive exhibits created some unique design challenges. Holmes overcame these constraints through pioneering performance-based fire engineering solutions, alongside a peer review of the structural retrofit.
Holmes developed a performance-based fire engineering design to achieve a free-flowing open space and interactive visitor experience. The existing 840-foot-long pier required innovative problem-solving for egress, smoke containment, and fire fighting access requirements. Holmes’ solution incorporated minimal internal fire separation of the building floor area, enhancing functionality and flexibility with safety achieved. Analysis demonstrated that building occupants are able to evacuate the building and pier. This alternative design permitted the building to function as a single large open compartment with a fire protection strategy tailor-made for its use and occupancy.
The Port of San Francisco adapted Holmes’ pier egress strategy as standard methodology, and the Holmes team is proud to support The Exploratorium through membership.
Holmes also undertook a structural peer review of the piers’ seismic upgrade. The developer enlisted Holmes’ assistance, given Holmes’ deep history of advising the Port of San Francisco (owner of the assets) on waterfront structures. Holmes assessed the capacity of the existing substructure by boat and land, undertook a comprehensive Probable Maximum Loss assessment, and provided input on proposed strengthening measures for The Exploratorium. Holmes delivered a successful peer review that met the project’s schedule, budget, and stakeholder goals.
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