What is the “BUILDY” Award?

This national award recognizes the most outstanding recent museum building projects. The purpose of the Buildy Award is to increase awareness within the field, and by the public at large, of the value of museums and the need for their ongoing rehabilitation and expansion to serve future generations.

Congratulations to MAAM’s 2018 Buildy Award Winner:

THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE, Nicholas and Athena Karabots
Pavilion Addition Honored for Excellence in Museum

Exterior View of the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion Photo courtesy of JacobsWyper Architects/Tom Crane Photography

The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) is excited to announce that the recipient for this year’s Building Museums Symposium’s Buildy Award is The Franklin Institute for the new Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion addition. This award recognizes their exemplary accomplishment for leading the museum through the challenging process of expanding their facilities. Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute, will accept the award on March 10, 2018 at a luncheon ceremony at the MAAM’s 13th annual Building Museums Symposium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums ninth annual Buildy Award presentation. The award recognizes the museum as an institution, its director and staff, and the building/design construction team whose completed museum construction projects demonstrate high achievement in the lessons of the Building Museums Symposium: careful, creative planning and diligent implementation, leading to institutional sustainability.

Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. Today, the Institute continues its dedication to public education and creating a passion for science by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake. The mission of The Franklin Institute is to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology. As an extension of the Franklin Institute, the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion balances out the building’s architecture and allows for expanded and enhanced programming furthering the Institute’s mission.

The new addition created an entire exhibit dedicated to the study of the brain, created a climate controlled traveling exhibit space, improved visitor circulation, and achieved LEED Silver certification, all while keeping within the original schedule and budget. The Institute’s President and CEO, Larry Dubinski, along with administration and staff worked closely with all stakeholders and a design team, which included Peter Saylor, FAIA and David Searles, AIA LEED AP of JacobsWyper Architects of Philadelphia, PA. Construction was led by Ed Szwarc of Skanska USA.

While the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion has received public accolades and acclaim, the Buildy Award is the only awards program that recognizes the museum leadership for its part in guiding the planning, design and construction process to a high level of success. It is frequently the case that a museum director is called upon to lead a building project only once in a career, so it is especially challenging to go through the complex process without previous experience. The museum director must address the often competing interests of staff, financial contributors, architects, engineers, contractors, visitors and other parties. A major construction effort can make or break a museum. Winners of the Buildy Awards have managed to guide their teams to create lasting assets for their institutions and their communities within a financial sustainable framework.

The Buildy Award Committee noted several factors which contributed to the project’s success, as well as features that speak to its excellence in museum building:
– With the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, The Franklin Institute followed and successfully completed its long-range master plan for the facility.
– While a distinctly different, modern architectural style, through appropriate massing and similar materials, the new pavilion respects the Beaux-Arts architecture of the original building.
– Increased gallery and classroom space allows for the display of more of the collection and for further engagement with the community in science education.
– With 360-degree circulation, the pavilion solves complex circulation issues that have been present since construction of the original 1933 structure.
– A year after opening the pavilion, The Franklin Institute has sustained a 12% increase in attendance.

Slides presented at ICOM meeting in Milan, Italy July 4, 2016 during session “Best Practices in Museum Building Projects”. Courtesy of Martha Morris, Carole Wharton, and David Greenbaum.

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