The entire Sciencenter facility (building, mechanical systems and Science park) has been designed to be an exhibit and to be used to demonstrate the application of science.
The Sciencenter building is a combination of old and new. The old part was the City of Ithaca waste water treatment plant, built in 1896 and in use until the early 1980's. This structure, a one story brick building, was completely gutted in the summer of 1992, leaving only the exterior walls and the interior load bearing steel columns. These columns can be seen by visitors. Visitors can also see a profile of the walls of the old building at a point near the stairway to the second floor.
The new, two story addition is constructed of wood, as is the adjoining science park. All windows were replaced with new, energy efficient ones. The new building and the Science Park were designed by Robert Leathers & Associates of Ithaca, NY.
Color coding has been used throughout the building. The heating and air conditioning system (HVAC) is blue. The electrical systems is yellow. The fire alarm systems is red. The windows also form an exhibit, demonstrating the insulation value of different kinds of windows.
In addition to containing a number of science exhibits, the Emerson Science Park is itself a geometry exhibit. It is built on a North-South coordinate grid; most of the poles are located on that grid.
The Sciencenter was constructed almost entirely by volunteers. There was a series of "community builds" during the Fall of 1992 and Spring of 1993, when large numbers of volunteers congregated to work at the site. Other volunteers worked throughout the year, individually and in small groups. Over 2,200 volunteers from the community contributed over 40,000 hours of work. They ranged in age from children to senior citizens and included both unskilled and skilled workers. A number of volunteers were professionals from the building trades who gave their time and energy to the project. Materials were donated or provided at cost, thus greatly reducing the cash outlay. The process, including the demolition of the interior of the old building, began in the Summer of 1992 and took about nine months. The new Sciencenter was dedicated and opened to the public on May 22, 1993.
The museum continued its tradition of community builds in October 2001. More than 1,100 volunteers helped construct the Sciencenter's new addition that opened in March 2003.
Capital Campaigns: Lessons From Our TrenchesNotes from a special presentation by Charlie Trautmann, Executive Director of the Sciencenter to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) - Finger Lakes Chapter, February 1, 2005.
- Write a conservative business plan and see if the ongoing day-to-day operations will be viable once the campaign has ended.
- Hire a campaign counsel who comes with strong recommendations and a winning track record.
- Use your feasibility study to cultivate donors as well as scope your fundraising potential.
- Start the campaign only after the organization, community, board, staff, and systems are ready.
- Gather creative ideas early through a series of campaign planning meetings with trustees, advisors, and other insiders.
- Drop the annual fund "calendar-year" mentality: the largest capital gifts tend to be made on the donor's timeline.
- Use long-term mortgage financing only as a last resort.
- Keep your director focused on major gifts.
- Develop a creative way to recognize donors.
- Build your case around the program, not the building that will house it.