May 18, 2023
In celebration of International Museum Day, we are highlighting two of our very own museum projects: The Museum of Science & Industry and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Epstein served as the design architect, interior designer, and civil 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.
In addition to technical services, Epstein provided overall project management. The project was financed through funding from the Chicago Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, 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 located next to Lake Michigan required Epstein’s civil and structural engineers to develop 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 elements. Taking a cue from the restored Burlington Zephyr train, 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 directly connected to the lobby. 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.
Our Museum of Contemporary Art project takes us back to 1996, when this new 220,000 square foot museum was completed.
Epstein led the project as both the associate architect and architect of record in collaboration with Joseph Kleihues, the designer of the museum.
The museum provides 45,000 square feet of space including, an educational center, a 15,000-piece art library, a 350-seat auditorium, and a 34,000 square foot sculpture garden atop an underground parking structure. Including galleries, the museum contains ancillary facilities such as offices, a cafeteria and a museum store.
As Architect of Record and Engineer of Record, Epstein was responsible for overall coordination and technical development of the contract documents and served as a key contact during field administration.
Epstein was also the civil engineer for the project. In this capacity, we were responsible for the sidewalk and streetscape design, street improvements, and underground utility coordination and connections. Special problems addressed in the design were the presence of large diameter water intake tunnels and large diameter combined sewers located on the site. Coordination with the various city departments and relocation plans were an integral part of the project. Also of concern was the truck access to the facility and maintenance of traffic which were addressed in the civil plans.