As part of its first major renovation since 1967, the Adler Planetarium enlisted Fabric Images, Inc., to engineer and construct a tensioned fabric space portal and gallery area for its new "Deep Space Adventure" exhibit. The Clark Family Welcome Gallery is a futuristic, intelligently-illuminated tensioned fabric environment that introduces visitors into the Grainger Sky Theater.
The gallery entry way, which is also comprised of Fabric Images, Inc. tensioned fabric and aluminum frame architecture, serves as a backdrop for the recently upgraded interactive stations within the waiting area. The fabric skins that covered the interior structure serve as a backdrop for the attendees to actively participate with a host of interactive presentations in the staging area. Opened to the public in July, the exhibit is an immersive space experience touted as being "second only to actual space travel," as it takes visitors on tour of the universe.
The Adler Planetarium offered a few unique challenges when the project began. Fabric Images was given several criteria to incorporate into the overall solution in order for the design to take shape. Perhaps the most critical obstacle was that none of the structure could be attached to the Adler interior. Because of the age of the planetarium, and its historical standing, the "Deep Space Adventure" exhibit had to be self supporting and a encapsulate all of the HVAC, electrical and projection equipment inside the fabric structure.
Fabric selection was one of the other challenges. The experience would be in place for an extended period of time. The material would also serve as the backdrop for the interactive experience that was the prelude to the large story taking place inside the viewing arena. The fabric needed to be durable, offer a good projection surface and be able to enhance the internal backlighting and surface front lighting of the experience.
Planetarium visitors are able to interact with the exhibit via multimedia presentations, given by contemporary space explorers, in a dynamic environment of light, sound, and fluid architecture. "Fabric is an ideal material and solution for dressing an environment with personality and uniqueness. Adler's newest experience captures this point in dramatic fashion," said Leo Boczar, Director of Communication for FI. "The use of fabric architecture in permanent installations like the Deep Space Adventure is becoming more common, thus elevating fabric architecture as a viable construction methodology in interior design and interactive experiences," said Boczar.