Since 1991, the museum has been housed in the landmark Old Post Office building in Pittsburgh's Allegheny Square section. In 2000, the museum commissioned an expansion that would link the Post Office with the neighboring, vacant Buhl Planetarium. The new expansion has bridged the two buildings with a three-story structure that provides a new entrance and additional exhibit space.
The signage program takes its cues from the expansion architecture. Lobby signage and the donor wall are composed of colorful fluorescent Plexiglas panels. The color sensibility is inspired by the museum flooring, for which much of the original terrazzo has been retained. The letters of the marquee signage on the museum entrance extrude from the building and are lit by neon from within a wire mesh, creating dimensional letterforms that look like something out of superhero comics.
"Design for children usually aims for the cuteness of kids rather than their native intelligence. This project uses scale, repetition, and direct language to bring a smile to everyone's face. Indeed, the project is a spoof on the wayfinding industry, making the signage so huge and emphatic that you just can't miss it. We especially enjoyed the 'Go to the bathroom sign' and the absurd grid of electric hand-dryers. It's nice to see museums (and designers) laugh at themselves a bit. The extruded letters on the exterior of the building add another subtle layer of humor."
Paula Scher (Principal in Charge), Rion Byrd, Drew Freeman
Koning Eizenberg Architecture (project architects), Vortex Lighting (lighting)