The Kaleideum museum revealed the design Thursday for its new building in downtown Winston-Salem overlooking Merschel Park and Liberty Plaza.
Extending five floors from ground to top and including a 13,000 square foot rooftop playground, the building will stand on the former site of the Forsyth County sheriff's office, which was recently torn down.
With the community emerging from stay-at-home orders, "a contemporary, interactive museum of arts, sciences and exploration as an accessible destination in the heart of downtown becomes even more important," said Elizabeth Dampier, the executive director of Kaleideum.
Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm with an office in Raleigh, and STITCH Design Shop, based in Winston-Salem, are the architects for the project.
The exterior of the museum will consist of two materials, primarily: smooth, colorful metal panels and highly textured white concrete panels.
The geometric forms and triangle shapes that make up the exterior walls are meant to evoke a kaleidoscope, the instrument on which the museum's name is based. The designers said that the folding surfaces of the precast concrete panels will provide varying effects of light, shadow and color depending on when they're viewed and from where.
Brad Burns, the design director at Gensler, said the perimeter of the building would engage visitors by providing views into the exhibits, access to a new cafe and a visitor entry at Third Street and Liberty Plaza.
"One of the most exciting aspects is the multi-level rooftop exhibit experience, which provides unique opportunities for learning and play, as well as fantastic views to surrounding areas of downtown and beyond," Burns said.
Kaleideum officials said the attraction will also be a link between the arts and cultural districts to the north and more historic and civic districts to the south. The museum will be the anchor of the southern end of Merschel Park, a downtown open space south of where Fourth and Trade streets intersect.
The project is being built with the help of public and private money. Forsyth County is spending $30.5 million, and Winston-Salem is spending $2 million for the Liberty Plaza demolition and renovation. Kaleideum officials have been working to raise another $10 million for exhibits.
Plans call for the new Kaleideum to be finished in 2023.
Chad Parker, the managing director of Gensler, said that as a native of Winston-Salem and a parent of young children, "it is both a privilege and a responsibility to live the mission of Kaleideum and create a place within a community that shapes the next generation."
Kaleideum was formed by the merger of The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks in July 2016.
Adam Sebastian, with STITCH, said he remembers visiting the Nature Science Center in the mid 1980s and how it "sparked a sense of wonder and excitement for learning." He said the new museum should be a place "inspiring wonder, curiosity and lifelong learning."