Concept plans unveiled for proposed Knoxville Science Museum


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For the very first time, the public got a look at what a proposed multi-million dollar Knoxville Science Museum could look like.

At a public meeting Thursday night, architects unveiled a set of concept plans for the project.

For years, there’s been talk of building the state-of-the-art educational science and discovery center in downtown Knoxville, where the Knoxville Police Department currently sits.

Thursday’s meeting was a step forward in the process. WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel was there.

BarberMcMurry Architects presented three different sets of conceptual designs during that meeting. They showed what the Knoxville Science Museum could be like and how it might function.

“They’re almost diametrically opposed in the way that they offer solutions,” said Kelly Headden, the Executive Vice President and COO at BarberMcMurry.

MORE ONLINE | For a closer look at the concepts, click here.

The 3 options

  • Option 1 includes an expansive walkable green roof and glass tower.
  • Option 2 has three stories of exhibit and learning space and a two story maker space with views of downtown.
  • Option 3 is themed around the elements: air, water, earth, fire and void. A treehouse is also included in the design.

Best features to be included

“Of course we can incorporate any or all of the best features of these three into what will be the final solution,” said Headden.

A similarity all three share is allowing the current KPD headquarters building to remain operational while construction on the museum is underway.

“The timing is absolutely perfect and not having that added pressure of needing to move out sooner really allows our operation to continue with minimal stress,” said David Brace, with the City of Knoxville.

The project is a gift to the community from Jim Clayton and the Clayton Family Foundation. It costs $100 million with a $50 million endowment for operation.

Thursday’s meeting was a big step in the project’s progress.

“I would just like everyone to know that this gives certainty to the project, that it is moving along,” Clayton said.

Clayton also said the project is meant for people of all ages, not just children.

“So much has happened in Downtown Knoxville just in the last few years, and this blends right in to that, and I think will help amplify all that is happening in our wonderful city,” he said.

Clayton said the next step is completing the design and starting to design exhibits. Construction is expected to start in the coming months. He said the is goal is to open the museum in two years, by Christmas of 2021.


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