Visitors admiring ‘Connected Worlds’ inside the Great Hall at the New York Hall of Science. It was designed by Ennead Architects
Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects design of the Great Hall at New York Hall of Science brightens Queens landscape
NEW YORK, NY.– After months of renovation, the New York Hall of Science has reopened the Great Hall. Designed by Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects, the renovation returns this landmark of mid-century modernism to its place as the centerpiece of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI).
The Great Hall has a long history that continues to resonate today. Designed by Harrison and Abramovitz Architects for the 1964/1965 World’s Fair, the Great Hall is among the Fair’s few surviving structures. During 1964/1965 World’s Fair, the Great Hall was the main exhibit space of the original Hall of Science.
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Among the most formally exotic buildings in Queens, the Great Hall was captivating and a sight to behold in its heyday. With a beautiful undulating cobalt blue dalle-de-verre glass and concrete walls, the Great Hall was beautiful inside and outside. Enclosed within the gorgeous external structure of the Great Hall is an irregular hall designed to give the illusion of being in deep space. Inside, visitors to the World’s Fair experienced science exhibits and docking spacecraft suspended high above.
Although the building has been expanded a number of times, most recently by Schliemann and Ennead in 2004, this new design and renovation gives it a new pride of place in the Queens landscape. Ennead Architects design and renovation of the Great Hall was not just to revamp its lost glory but also to bring it into the 21st century. Ennead Architects describes the renovation thus:
The ambitious restoration project included stabilization and repair of the exterior building envelope, renovation and modernization of the interior of the Great Hall and Great Hall Lobby and re-paving and improvements to the terrace outside the Great Hall. Inside, each of the 5,400- blue dalle-de-verre glass panels was cleaned by hand, with fifty new panels painstakingly color-matched and installed by Willet Hauser Studios, under whose commission the original 5,400 panels were constructed in 1964.
To celebrate the opening of the Great Hall, NYSCI is hosting Connected Worlds, the first permanent exhibit to open inside the historic hall since NYSCI began renovations in 2009. An immersive exhibit, Connected Worlds explores the connectivity of the planet and everyone’s role in it.
Many of those who were at the opening of the exhibit were captivated not just by the beauty of the Great Hall but also the exhibition that left many inspired. Parents carried their children on their shoulders so they could have a full experience of this interactive show.
The experience of watching people in the new Great Hall space enjoying an interactive exhibition for the first time in many years was magical. Reminiscing on the process of creating the ambience that captivated audience at the opening of the Great Hall and Connected Worlds, Ennead Architects partner Todd Schliemann finds relevance in his discussion with Alan Friedman, Director of NYSCI from 1984-2006:
Alan Friedman, Director of NYSCI from 1984-2006, told me that he wanted visitors to be inspired to learn, so I proceeded to create architecture that supported this mission. Along the way, I started thinking there was magic here—and I learned that NYSCI is a place that also demystifies the magic. It is an honor to be to be a part of the place where the magicians of science live.
The reopening of the Great Hall brings renewed attention to the New York Hall of Science. The Great Hall will not only be a major attraction for scientists but also parents and children. The enthusiasm that comes with the opening of the New York Hall of Science further solidifies Ennead Architects position as a catalyst for change in the public realm and for enhancing the quality of civic life in New York.