Located at the end of an arm of land extending into Lake Michigan at Chicago’s Museum Campus, the original Adler Planetarium is a twelve sided structure clad in rainbow granite, an Art Deco masterpiece by the architect Ernest Grunsfeld, Jr opened in 1930. An underground addition in 1972 and a 1980 new entry pavilion combined to create a dismaying entry sequence, with exhibition areas scattered and incoherent. The 64,000 sf sky pavilion was added in 1998 to consolidate exhibit spaces and to include a new planetarium theater and a 200 seat restaurant.

Like the Lohan Associates designed addition to the adjacent Shedd Aquarium, the Sky Pavilion was sited on the lake side of the existing building, preserving views of the historical structure from the approach by land. The simple glass form, triangular in section, gently arcs in a “c” shape around the original building, and is low enough to preserve views of its dome from the lake side. Unlike the windowless original building, the Sky Pavilion is clad in glass to offer spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago skyline, and, best of all, the night sky.

One year later, Lohan Associates completed renovations to the original planetarium, including two new gift shops, the History of Astronomy Gallery, and a refurbished Sky Theater.

Completed: 1998
Architect and Interior Designer: Lohan Associates
Awards: AIA Chicago Distinguished Building

Adler Planetarium Sky Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois