Challenger Center for Space Science Education Flies High Above Times Square

By Keith Cowing
December 13, 2007
Filed under
Challenger Center for Space Science Education Flies High Above Times Square

Larger image

Over the past several days, New Yorkers have had a chance to see what the next Challenger Learning Center will look like.

The facility will be located in Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey and was designed by Cubellis, a national architectural, interior design, and engineering firm.

Visitors to Times Square have been shown a large electronic advertisement by PRNewswire at 3 Times Square (map) featuring a press release and an image of the new Learning Center.

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education has founded a network of over 50 Challenger Learning Centers across the United states and has served 8 million students in its first 20 years of operations.

Earlier press release

Cubellis To Serve as Project Architect on New Challenger Learning Center

Freehold, NJ – Cubellis, a national architectural, interior design, and engineering firm with offices in Englewood Cliffs and Freehold, has been selected as the Project Architect by the New Jersey Educational Information Resource Center (EIRC) for a new Challenger Learning Center in Mount Laurel Township.

Cubellis will provide architectural, structural engineering, and MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) services at the 12,500 SF facility, only the third such center planned for the State of New Jersey.

larger image

Cubellis’ design and engineering efforts will utilize innovative, sustainable architectural design concepts and cutting-edge technology to achieve the highest possible level of sustainable performance. The Mount Laurel facility will incorporate many of these “green” strategies to underscore the center’s mission of “learning at every turn.”

Located on Briggs Road, the center will provide educational opportunities designed to complement traditional centers of its type along with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) academic enrichment program, distance learning, and overnight accommodations to enhance virtual learning environments.

As is the case with other Challenger Learning Centers, it will also house a space station, mission control, training rooms, science lab, offices, cafeteria, and gift shop.

Sustainable Building Design to Underscore Learning Mission

The sustainable building design strategies and technologies employed in the Cubellis design will augment these programs. For example, instructors will highlight the facility’s photovoltaic (PV) panels, under-floor air distribution and rain water collection, and use these building features for demonstration and teaching. Located as an up-front element in the design, the building’s PV array will not only provide electricity, but will also act as a shading device for the glazed atrium, offering protection for patrons waiting in line to enter the center. Similarly, design plans call for the space station flight simulator to be set off in order to act as a visual icon and destination akin to a shuttle on launch pad.

Facility to Seek LEED Certification

With Cubellis’ assistance, the Mount Laurel center will leverage these and other innovative design concepts to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(TM)) certification for the complex. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is given to facilities that meet nationally accepted benchmark standards for environmentally sustainable design, construction, and operation of high performance “green” buildings.

Levels of LEED certification are awarded by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) when a project’s incorporation of green building practices achieves or exceeds a predefined threshold of performance. Points are garnered by incorporating green design strategies from the following categories: Sustainable Sites; Water Efficiency; Energy and Atmosphere; Materials and Resources; Indoor Environmental Quality; Innovation & Design.

Any combination of points from these categories may be used to achieve a level of certification.

“Some clients come to us looking for inspiration and some come to us already inspired,” said Steve Leone, AIA, LEED AP and Principal, Architecture in the Cubellis, Freehold office.

“In the case of the Mount Laurel Challenger Learning Center, EIRC is not only inspired, but has an unwavering belief in their mission and a vision for a better future. This foresight will enable the building itself to be included as a teaching aid, demonstrating the value of sustainability through interactive displays and exhibits. It serves as an inspiring example what architecture should always strive to be.”

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.