CHILDREN'S MUSEUM & COMMUNITY CENTER

Bourbonnais
An Agrarian Aesthetic
Photo © © Doug Snower
Lucky Charm Windows
Photo © © Doug Snower
Iconic Gable and Silo Re-interpreted
Photo © © Doug Snower
Exterior Recalling the Mid-Western Farm
Photo © © Doug Snower
Interconnected Barn Structures
Photo © © Doug Snower
Architects
Architecture Is Fun
Location
Bourbonnais
Year
2002
Cost
1M - 100M
Stories
1-5 Stories
Client
Bourbonnais Park District
Team
Sharon Exley MAAE, Peter Exley FAIA RIBA, Architecture Is Fun

EXPLORATION STATION CHILDREN'S MUSEUM & COMMUNITY CENTER:
Exploration Station is a 10,000 SF museum and community center inspired by the vision and spirit of this young institution and by the agrarian context of which it is a part.

The ad-hoc collection of interconnected barn structures recalls the image of the Mid-Western farm but, through unexpected color combinations, whimsical windows, and a series of other details, it is clearly a container for play and learning. This impression is essential in order that the building be embraced by its community and identifiable to children.

The exterior building colors are red, white, and blue; bold colors that extend to the colored concrete walkway leading the way into the museum. The protruding gable, shaped like a little blue schoolhouse, signifies learning and turns into a coatroom on the inside. A yellow open-air silo that serves as the threshold provides ample room for groups to gather before entering. The color palette extends inside, with the ceiling, ducts and bathroom tile continuing this red and blue color scheme. Along the hallways, the windows, nicknamed “lucky charms” for their odd shapes, provide framed vistas. One window is purposely high, encouraging a caregiver to lift a child up to peek out into the garden and trails beyond.

The museum and community center is sited to take advantage of the Bradley Farm and its walking trails.

Awards & Recognition:
Top 20 Children’s Museums Award, Child Magazine, 2002.
Honorable Mention Award, Metal Architecture, 1998.
The use of exterior metal panels afforded the architects the opportunity to use a varied and dynamic color palette in order to express this building as a unique, child-inspired project. The award recognizes a most unusual palette of materials and colors sympathetic to the design concept.
~ Metal Architecture Editors.

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