November 4, 2021

Epstein was the design architect, interior designer, civil engineer and structural engineer for the design of a new 3-level, 1,500-car underground parking garage, arrival hall and connecting lobby link to the existing Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).

In this role, Epstein coordinated the services of six subconsultants, three of which were M/WBE firms. Epstein provided architectural, structural engineering and civil engineering services, as well as overall project management. The project was financed through funding from CDOT, IDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. Epstein prepared the Phase I project report, which included interface and coordination with the three funding government agencies as well as complete construction documents for the garage, lobby and access roads.

The underground parking structure is located next to Lake Michigan, which meant that Epstein’s civil and structural engineers developed unique engineering solutions to ensure water would not degrade the structure. The construction site was surrounded by sand, allowing for the free flow of water from the lake. The continuous flow of water from Lake Michigan was permanently retained around the construction with continuous concrete slurry walls. The slurry walls were constructed by trenching around the site, filling the trench with a bentonite slurry mix, placing reinforcing steel in the trench, and pumping concrete into the trench. Residual bentonite adheres to the concrete and creates a system that deters water penetration through the concrete.

Epstein’s interior design group was responsible for the design of the new subterranean arrival hall and adjacent lobby link, which act as the new “front door” to the museum. Epstein faced a unique challenge in creating a space that met all the functional requirements of visitor circulation ticketing, orientation, information and membership, retail, and museum office - while setting the tone for the forthcoming museum experience.


Once requirements were determined, space and circulation studies were undertaken to determine placement and size of key programmatic elements. Taking a cue from the restored Burlington Zephyr train in the new adjoining underground garage, the space was conceived to embody dynamic motion.

The train is located on the lowest level of the garage in a climate controlled three-story space that connects directly into the lobby. This space is located directly on the north/south axis of the museum and is designed as a permanent exhibit by MSI.

The elliptical, three-story space features an undulating ceiling, as if caused by the train moving through space.

Oval “aerodynamic” ticketing booths were designed of stainless steel with brass detailing, a reference to the original 1930’s lobby, and set on wheels. Booths can be moved to adjust for traffic flow, or be removed in order to facilitate the use of the space for special events.

In addition to this main arrival hall, elevators and escalators lead up to a transition level Link Lobby in the original building.

The comprehensive design solution allows visitors to “flow” smoothly through the space.