From the front

The Franklin Institute is expanding, thanks to a generous $10 million donation from Nicholas and Athena Karabots. According to, the Karabots were inspired to give to the Franklin Institute when Nicholas made a visit several months ago and saw four inner-city kids who are spending the year learning astronomy. Having grown up in a rough neighborhood in the Bronx and feeling a kinship with those kids, the couple decided to offer the largest donation in the establishment’s history.

South side. Site of the future addition

The Franklin Institute has been hoping to build an addition for quite some time and now they are only $6M shy of their $64.7M fundraising goal, which will go towards not just the expansion but also new exhibits and updates to existing ones. The new addition, which will be named the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, will house a brand new neuroscience and brain exhibit, a conference center, additional classroom space, as well as traveling exhibits. Construction of the new $23.3M building is set to start this spring and will take about two years to complete.

Looking from a greater distance

The design for the new building is windowless, because so much of the new space will be used for exhibitions. With that in mind, the architects for the project, SaylorGregg Architects, have turned to artist Ned Kahn to create what they are calling a “shimmer wall.”  This will be constructed using moving metal shingles which will move with the wind and reflect sunlight as the sun moves across the sky. Taking a look at the rendering, it’s definitely a departure from the look of the rest of the building, but we’re hopeful that the new and old will look good together once the addition is actually constructed. Fingers crossed.

Looks interesting. We shall see.

In the meantime, we might just head over there this week- it’s been too long since we’ve taken a stroll through the heart.

–Kaitlin Bostwick