The Knight Space Science Education Center and The Challenger Learning Center of Arizona

Peoria, Arizona

  • FIRM

    Orcutt/Winslow Partnership


    Challenger Learning Foundation (in association with the Smithsonian Institute)

  • AREA

    35,988 sq.ft.





One of the most technologically advanced space science education centers in the United States, The Challenger Learning Center of Arizona features concrete, steel and metal construction that extends throughout the four-story structure. The facility was designed to teach kids about space travel and to motivate students to expand their learning in math, science, technology ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$116.81CITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2001 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYExhibition Space/GalleriesSUB CATEGORYSpecialized architecture.

A NASA hangar-type building design was developed with materials chosen to enunciate the illusion of space travel. From the white metal siding (and similar metals represented in the space program), to the curtainwall of reflective glass on the face of the triangular structure, to the steel gantry and exterior stairway, the simple, yet dynamic design creates an image of the future appropriate to its function.

As visitors cross the entrance gantry bridge, they experience a vibrating sensation and the absence of a solid floor as they begin their space tour. Sights, sounds, smells and textures play a major role in the experience at the center. Each of the senses is stimulated throughout a series of technology-driven entry sequences enhanced by the architecture.

The exhibit rotunda features a 180-degree historical “tour of the universe” mural created by artist Robert T. McCall. Interior materials were selected to simplify cost, provide durability and provide dominant color schemes.

"Wow! So real, you would think you were at NASA! From the entrance to the control center, `outer space` appears at your fingertips."--2001 jury