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October 17, 2017

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Conceptual design unveiled for Henderson Space and Science Center


A conceptual model of the Henderson Space and Science Center.

Henderson Space and Science Center

An artist's rendering depicts the outdoor exhibits courtyard at the Henderson Space and Science Center. Launch slideshow »

The Henderson Space and Science Center, borne of an idea brainstormed years ago by former Henderson Councilman Jack Clark, continues to edge closer to reality with the unveiling Friday of a new conceptual design and model.

Still standing as the biggest obstacle to the center’s eventual opening: raising the bulk of the $63 million projected cost to design and construct the building and acquire and install exhibits.

The center’s board of directors, however, remains confident in its goal.

“We have made a lot of progress when it comes to preparing to go forward with the kind of fundraising plan that is essential to the success of our project,” said James Gibson, board president and former Henderson mayor.

If all goes as planned, the center should be open in the summer of 2015, officials said.

The state-of-the-art science museum will sit on five acres next to the proposed $1.5 million Union Village complex near U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive and, as architect Windom Kimsey described the conceptual design, will focus on green technologies and sustainability.

“We have two levels of exhibits with big, high-volume space and exhibits are themed,” said Kimsey, president and CEO of Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects. “We’re trying to make this as public-friendly as we can with the design. The idea is to make the facility really active.”

The design unveiled Friday envisions the center featuring a grand hall, multipurpose event spaces, exhibit spaces, cafeteria and outdoor exhibits courtyard. The outdoor exhibit and education spaces can be converted into lecture halls. A large, wing-shaped lobby would house free exhibits and have space available for rent for community events.

A 75-foot-tall LED sign tower is planned just outside the main courtyard.

“One of the things we want to do is have a strong, iconic presence for the building in the community,” said Kimsey, who added it was his desire to integrate science and technology into every aspect of the building. “The big wall on the end where the LED tower comes up, what we want to do on the surface of that wall is use kinetic material so when the wind blows the whole wall does something really kind of interesting.”

A fact sheet distributed Friday noted the Las Vegas Valley was one of the few major metropolitan areas in the country without a center of this type and that science and math test scores of Clark County School District students were among the nation’s lowest. Gibson said he expected the center to become an integral part of science classes and learning for Clark County students, as well as an educational tool for adults.

“What we hope is that partnerships with educators and with the K-12 system will be essential to us,” Gibson said.

Even with a conceptual design in hand, Clark said he was prepared to make alterations if funding does not come through as expected.

“We do have an alternative if we’re not able to raise the entire $63 million,” said Clark, who is willing to hold off about 21,000 square feet of exhibit space if so. “We will complete the building and later phase in exhibit space.”

Although the project is far from fully funded, the Henderson City Council already has put in $1.5 million for the center’s initial operating budget. In 2009 the city, currently the project’s main supporter, donated the five acres and agreed to spend $25 million of the city’s land fund toward the project, allotting the funds in increments as the project grows.

“We’ve had our critics say, ‘How could you do this at this time?’ But you have to start and these projects don’t just come up overnight,” Councilwoman Gerri Schroder said. “This is a work in progress that will take quite a few years to come through.”

Gibson said the center’s board would go before the Henderson City Council later this month to request the next portion of funding, about $2.9 million, to move forward. The next phase could take up to another year.

“That will allow us to go from the design work we’ve been doing to the creation of the building plans and a bidders’ package,” Gibson said.

Whether completion of the Space and Science Center comes in a few years or a decade, Gibson said he believed it would make an important mark on Henderson.

“We try to look beyond the moment in an effort to see what we can do to develop something that will leave a lasting impression, better prepare our children, and we think this will do exactly that.”

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