Discovery Park plans unveiled
Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010 2:35 pm
Discovery Park of America soared back into the limelight by unveiling an intriguing design for its main exhibition building and announcing exhibit plans that include an historic airplane and working gristmill.
At a public event at Everett Stewart Regional Airport, Discovery Park officials and Verner Johnson architects revealed the new design for Discovery Center, the 100,000 square foot flagship for the 50-acre complex under development in Union City, TN. After a change in architects, construction is set to resume in August with more site preparation.
Jim Rippy, Chairman of Discovery Park of America, hailed the new design of the building. “I think Verner Johnson Associates has created a marvelous design and layout for Discovery Center. The building’s curving forms, two large open atriums and an observation tower that peaks 200’ in the sky highlight a structure that will become a landmark in the nation’s heartland.”
Rippy added, “The building and the tower will be highly visible in the relatively flat landscape and will provide a spectacular view of the Discovery Park site and the surrounding area. The Tower will include an outdoor deck that encircles a room that will accommodate 50-60 guests. Discover Center also has a Grand Hall for events involving approximately 250 people.”
Robert and Jenny Kirkland, principal benefactors of the project, said, “The building design is wonderful and compelling but it’s only the shell for a remarkable visitor experience that will both educate and entertain. The Stearman PT-17 airplane that flew in during Tuesday’s ceremony will hang prominently in one of Discovery Center’s atriums.
The Stearman is only one example of the many exhibits and activities that will engage and captivate visitors.
Dinosaurs, a giant climb-through human body, an earthquake simulator and an interactive starship that can fly visitors throughout the universe and many other exciting things are being planned.”
The Stearman PT-17 was used to train Army pilots during WWII including many at near-by Everett Stewart Regional Airport, then known as Embry-Riddle Air Field.
A number of former cadets and workers at Embry-Riddle were on hand to witness the return of the historic airplane.
Also on display was the 12’ wooden cog gear from an 1800 gristmill.
Gears and several grist stones from the 210-year-old gristmill will be reassembled into a working mill.
The gristmill will anchor the north end of Discovery Park’s site and launch a water feature that will meander throughout the site.
Historic buildings from the 1800’s and early 1900’s will be placed along the stream along with extensive gardens and landscaping to form an inviting and comfortable environment for visitors.
Building construction is scheduled to resume in early 2011.
Most of the original construction work on Discovery Center will be utilized in the new building. Discovery Park is expected to open in late 2012.
Discovery Park of America, Inc will be a $100 million educational complex with exhibits and interactive experiences in the areas of history, nature, art, and science.
The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation is the principal funding source for Discovery Park.