Say goodbye again to raves in Bicentennial Park: the first shovel will hit the ground Friday morning to begin construction on the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, turning the Miami Science Museum into a living sail of sorts -- a a sleek hall of learning designed to catch the Biscayne breeze that will, in turn, help power it.
The new, green-focused $275 million building is expected to be completed in early 2015, at which point visitors will be treated to sharks -- yes, sharks! -- swimming over them on the mezzanine in a jaw-dropping 600,000-gallon aquarium.
(View renderings of the new space below.)
But that's not all. Designed by Grimshaw Architects of London/New York, the 250,000-square-foot space will also feature a full-dome 3-D planetarium, multiple wings of exhibits, cafes, learning centers, and gardens, fountains and pools forming an oasis in the midst of urban density in its new shared home with the Miami Art Museum on Museum Park.
The building is intended to run sustainably, not only collecting rain water on the roof but using energy from the sun, wind, and even museum visitors themselves. Officials say the size of the Frost should accommodate double the 50,000 school children who currently visit each year.
Construction plans for the new building went underway after county residents voted in 2004 in support of using $165 million through its Building Better Communities bond program, but staff are still fundraising. In March 2011, Dr. Phillip Frost and his wife, Patricia, donated $35 million to the museum, capturing naming rights, and in January the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation donated a $10 million challenge grant. The museum -- currently open in its old South Miami home -- is still seeking another $30 million in private donations.
"The construction of this Museum will be remembered as the beginning of a new era for Miami –- characterized by an emphasis on technology and all that it adds to our quality of life," said Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost in a statement. "We are proud that it will be a major cornerstone in the development of this new reputation."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed the aquarium's capacity at 60,000 gallons. It is 600,000.