The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) has served the Denver community since its founding in 1900. The Museum is housed in a City-owned building that opened to the public in historic City Park in 1908. During the past 102 years, the core Museum building has been expanded and renovated many times to meet the increasing needs of the community. Today, the Museum is one of Denver's greatest assets, attracting visitors from around the world and serving a continually growing, demographically changing city. gkkworks developed the master plan, program plan, and architectural design for the 126,000 SF extension of the south side of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Above ground in the new wing is the Morgridge Family Exploration Center, which contains labs, educational spaces, an exhibition gallery, and a Discovery Zone for young visitors. The two below-grade floors contain the Rocky Mountain Science & Collections Center, which houses the Museum's 1.4 million artifacts and specimens in an environmentally conditioned space. The adjoining Boettcher Plaza connects DMNS to City Park and allows for an Outdoor Studio for science activities for the 315,000 children and teens who visit the Museum each year.
The addition received LEED Platinum certification and is designed to operate at a savings of 62.2% in energy use, with a 50% reduction in energy costs relative to the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 baseline. One of the contributing factors to the energy reduction and savings is an open-loop water-source heat pump that uses Denver's non-potable water system. The seven 30-ton heat pumps provide 100% of the heating and cooling for the facility, as well as dehumidification in the summer.
Additional sustainable features include rooftop thermal panels that provide domestic hot water, 200kW of photovoltaic panels to offset electricity usage, waterless urinals and low-flush toilets that reduce 43% of potable water use, diversion of 62% of construction waste from landfills, and high-efficiency gearless elevators. The Morgridge Family Exploration Center's efficient design reinforces the Museum's mission as a visible steward for sustainability to the community.