Living Computers: Museum + Labs

Finalist 2018

Living Computers: Museum + Labs, established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, not only preserves and displays working vintage computers, it also aims to make technology fun and accessible to the public. With its 2016-2017 renovation and expansion, the museum wanted to reach a wider audience to round out STEM education and encourage kids—especially girls—to pursue careers in technology.

In collaboration with interior architect Tiscareno Associates and exhibit designer Curious Beast, NBBJ led the effort to shape the experience of the museum: how people enter, move through the building and encounter the exhibits. On the first floor, visitors gain hands-on experience in robotics, augmented reality, virtual reality, convolutional neural networks, Big Data, self-driving cars, digital art and more.

Where possible, surprise and delight were brought to the interaction design—for instance, robots controlled not by joystick but by capacitive text that responds when visitors touch "Left" or "Right." Meanwhile, a mezzanine level offers exhibits on the Internet of Things and game-making, and the second floor contains the museum's vintage computer collection. By focusing on the overall user experience, NBBJ helped unify the space through environmental graphics, casework, integrated didactics and messaging, digital displays and interactive components, forming a cohesive, immersive encounter with the past, present and future of computer technology.

Design Firms: 

NBBJ

Client: 

Vulcan

Project Area: 

7,500 sq ft

Open Date: 

November 2016

Photo Credits: 

Sean Airhart / NBBJ (photography)

Design Team: 

Samuel Stubblefield (project lead designer), Betsy Schiel (lead designer), Cari Scotkin (project manager)

Consultants: 

Curious Beast, Tiscareno Associates, Unified Field

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