The Franklin Institute Tops-Out the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion

Press release 5/17/2013 12:00 PM EST

Skanska USA reaches structural milestone in the multi-million dollar expansion at The Franklin Institute

PHILADELPHIA – May 17, 2013 – A significant milestone in the construction of the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion was celebrated today as the final beam was hoisted atop the new expansion—the first for The Franklin Institute in more than 20 years.  Staff, volunteers, and leaders of The Franklin Institute, along with Skanska USA’s project team and construction crew signed the beam, which was adorned with an evergreen tree, a Franklinia tree and an American flag.  The placement of the final steel beam celebrates the project’s structural completion, a major construction milestone.  

Set to open in June 2014, the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion is a 53,000-square-foot addition to the south side of The Franklin Institute.  It will include an education and conference center, the Frank Baldino, Jr. Gallery housing a permanent exhibition entitled Your Brain presented by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and a special exhibition gallery for limited engagements. The exterior of the building will incorporate decidedly modern features, such as extensive landscaping that mitigates stormwater drainage and a dramatic stainless steel kinetic “shimmer wall” by renowned artist Ned Kahn that moves with the wind and reflects the sky. Underneath the shimmer wall, a new terrace will be constructed with seating and rain gardens. 

“We are extremely grateful to Nicholas and Athena Karabots and all of our many supporters who have been instrumental in allowing us to achieve this milestone,” states Dennis M. Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute.  “Looking up at this structure, I see so many new and exciting possibilities through which we can continue to inspire a great passion for science learning, and today we are even closer to that reality.”

“This milestone is significant for Skanska as we inch closer to creating a state-of-the-art facility for one of Philadelphia’s most iconic institutions,” said Ed Szwarc, general manager and executive vice president of Skanska’s Delaware and Pennsylvania offices. “Skanska has a long track record for success in museum construction, and we look forward to completing this expansion project with The Franklin Institute to provide the Philadelphia community with a facility that allows for more opportunities to positively engage with science and technology.”

The building contains nearly 449 tons of structural steel. As part of its commitment to green and sustainable building, the Skanska construction team is building the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion to LEED Silver standards, and has recycled more than 97 percent of the waste removed from the site. In addition to the construction of the Pavilion, Skanska has also relocated the parking garage exit to the south elevation of the Mandell Center, which moves it away from the Pavilion’s building footprint. The building’s chilled water and condensing water systems are also being revamped during the project by replacing chillers, cooling towers, and associated pumps.

The Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion project is 45 percent complete, and is on schedule for construction completion in December 2013. Installation of the Your Brain exhibition will begin in November, upon the completion of the Pavilion’s second floor. To date, the team from Skanska has logged more than 40,000 work hours to the building’s construction.  The architect is SaylorGregg Architects from Philadelphia.