Green Buildings Case Studies

Durango Discovery Museum at the Powerhouse

1099 Main Avenue, #316
Durango, CO  81301

Contact: Joe Lounge, Ed.D. Exhibits + Special Projects,

Our Solar PV Setup:

Architect:  FeeneyArchitect
Building size:  20,000 sq. ft.
Project budget:  TBD
Opening date: TBD
LEED certification: TBD

About Durango’s Sustainable Expansion and Renovation Project
The Durango Discovery Museum at the Powerhouse will be a 20,000 square foot interactive science center for all ages located in a historic power plant, the oldest AC steam plant in existence. This riverfront project will include:

  • Sustainability demo labs
  • Interactive science + energy exhibits for all ages
  • Sound garden and science park
  • Riverfront town square and events pavilion
  • Restaurant and museum shop
  • Sudden Science: education outreach and summer camps
  • Durango Discovery Kids: a world built just for 0-5 year olds

Durango Discovery Museum

The Museum’s Decision to Go Green
The Durango Power House was named to the Most Endangered Places in Colorado list by Colorado Preservation Inc. in 2001. At about the same time, The Children’s Museum of Durango pitched the use of the Power House to the City of Durango. After the City Council voted against the demolition of the building, citizens gathered to determine goals of the new project.  One of the goals set forth during this pre-design charette, was that sustainable building principles be utilized as fully as possible.  The museum’s location in an abandoned power house has naturally had a large and continuing influence on the nature of the facility as an interactive museum focused on science and energy issues.

How Durango’s Project Is Sustainable

  • Adaptive Reuse of Power House – the restoration of the 8,000 square foot Durango Power House and construction of 12,000 sq.ft. green building addition.
  • Brownfield Cleanup – cleanup of the site has been a major effort, involving hazardous materials such as asbestos, mercury, and PCBs.
  • Riverfront Revitalization – the museum site is key, having 400’ of property fronting the Animas River in the heart of Durango’s historic downtown.
  • Focus on Science and Energy – exhibits and programs will revolve around energy sources, and how we use energy in everyday life.
  • Science Square – with the 80’ smokestack serving as a focal point and sundial pointer, Science Plaza will have outdoor exhibits focused on energy inquiry.

Durango Discovery Museum

Project’s Distinguishing Green Features:

  • Heating/Cooling/Power – multiple technologies will be deployed to power the facility. Systems including photovoltaics, solar thermal, biodiesel, wind, andground source heat pumps will be utilized. The building itself will be an exhibit, showcasing these systems in a transparent fashion.
  • Green Exhibits – sustainable design principles and practices will be used for all exhibits.
  • Daylighting – one of the goals for the facility will be no artificial lighting during daylight hours.
  • Local Materials Sourcing – maximum use of local sources for construction materials.

Durango Discovery Museum

New or Upcoming Green Projects:

  1. The Solar Roller: just unveiled! A mobile power plant and interactive mini-discovery center on wheels. (see photo above) Will tour Four Corners schools, community centers, and street festivals in 2009.
  2. Pedal-power movie nights. Sci-Fri open air movie nights in summer 2009 will feature pedal assisted projection and sound. Bring your bike!
  3. Pedal-power wifi café. Powerhouse free wifi in summer 2009 will feature pedal powered battery backup. Bring your bike and surf the ‘net!

Durango Discovery Museum