The Franklin Institute recently inaugurated the $ 41 million, 3-story, 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, which houses state-of-the-art education and conference centers, an 8,000-square-foot rotating exhibition gallery, and a permanent interactive exhibition on the human brain.
The Institute was in need of an unconventional design solution for a donor recognition program honoring the over 100 major donors whose generous contributions made the new Pavilion possible. Focusing the program on a universal scientific concept relevant to the Franklin Institute and the themes of the exhibitions within the new Pavilion, Poulin + Morris (New York) developed a program based on the fractal, a natural phenomenon and mathematical set consisting of complex, infinite, patterns exhibiting self-similarity displayed at all scales. Dynamic, large-scale bas-relief sculptural treatments comprised of cast resin, triangular fractals are arranged along two 28-foot-long travertine-clad walls that frame the interior entrance of the new Pavilion. The main focal point of the donor recognition program is a black-and-white photographic portrait of the lead benefactors, Nicholas and Athena Karabots, taken specifically for the donor wall to celebrate the couple. All donor names are silkscreened onto the panels in varying type sizes to distinguish the levels of donors.
While the bas-reliefs recognize the major benefactors of the Pavilion, their kinetic patterns engage visitors and set an exciting tone for the interactive experiences within.