Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Space Odyssey

Denver, Colorado

With a renewed mission to create the area’s premier space science education center, we worked closely with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to program, plan and design technologically advanced spaces, accommodating their new space science initiative—Space Odyssey. The design included transforming the museum’s existing first floor to provide new visitor exhibits and experiences, the complete renovation of Gates Planetarium, and the construction of a dramatic, three-story atrium. The Leprino Family Atrium serves as a link between the museum’s nature and science exhibitions, featuring a lobby that offers stunning views of Denver and the mountains beyond. Perforated metal architectural rings, visible through the atrium’s glass curtain wall, define its distinct spaces; three oriented towards the equinoxes and solstices, while the fourth encloses the Community Room, available for meetings and educational use. The new rooftop features a number of viewing platforms to study the night skies.

Project Data

40,000 sf

Program & Highlights

Special events & reception space
Community Room
Large exhibit space
Bailey Lounge
Star-gazing terrace


2003 Colorado Construction Association, Best Overall Project

2003 Colorado Construction Association, Best Public Project

2003 Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Project of the Year Award for Construction Excellence

Ricardo Baca, "Space Launch," Denver Post, June 9, 2003

Kyle MacMillan, "Design posed architectural challenge," Denver Post, June 8, 2003

"Space Odyssey Begins," Architectural Record, March 2001

Lisa Bornstein, "Museum sees stars," Denver Rocky Mountain News, September 22,2000

“What they allowed us to see . . . was the potential we had in the building for remolding the existing structure in a way that better suits our program. . . that we could rearrange our spaces without significantly altering them and serve visitors better.”
— Elaine Harkins, Director of Facilities, Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Before the expansion

Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin
Mechanical Engineer: Integrated Planning & Engineering (IPE)
Electrical Engineer: Overload Solutions
General Contractor: Gerald H. Phipps, Inc
Acoustics: David L. Adams
Theater/AV: Auerbach Associates