Why San Francisco’s Exploratorium at Pier 15 is an exciting beacon for green architecture

Why San Francisco’s Exploratorium at Pier 15 is an exciting beacon for green architecture

We’re big fans of green architecture at The Homburg Institute. From an industry perspective, these projects represent some of the most exciting and revolutionary undertakings that learners can participate in. Harnessing modern new materials and environmental resources is both challenging and creative, and there’s so much going on with each development that the capacity for different types of professionals is unprecedented.

We’ve taken to highlighting a few examples of exciting green architecture in the past, but San Francisco’s Exploratorium at Pier 15 is a particularly interesting monument to the topic. 80,000 square feet of exhibits, classrooms, workshops, offices, a theatre, and more. It’s a lot, but nothing that hasn’t been included as list items in the past - what’s most interesting in this case is that the entirety of the museum is committed to Net Zero Energy. That’s to say that the renewable energy created on site is equal to the building’s consumption! 


Net Zero Energy

Given that the Exploratorium expanded significantly during the renovation period that made this pall possible, the feat is even more astounding. Harnessing what was once unused plots of waterfront, the new and improved museum sports an 800’ photovoltaic roof (converting light into electricity), and is a glimpse at what the future could be.

Embedded is over 40 miles of tubing that circulates radiant heat and cooling respectively, where beneath the Exploratorium baywater provides the source of the latter. Now a public exhibit, the energy monitoring system and cooling machine are frequented by visitors for an element of total transparency (and awe!) Leveraging components of the structure in an exhibitory capacity is a win in any scenario.


A look to the future

The work has been done, and through-traffic at the museum has increased by over 400% since the doors reopened. What’s perhaps equally impactful is the project’s potential as a source of inspiration and influence with aspiring young people and experienced professionals alike. Given the number of school busses one can observe at the Exploratorium on the regular, we’re betting on that potential.

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