The Daily Californian Online

Lawrence Hall of Science to Reopen with New Features

By Michael Garcia
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Category: News > Development and Capital Projects

UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science will reopen Oct. 1 following the completion of weeks of construction and renovation.

The hall, which has been closed since Sept. 7, will feature a new exhibit on Mars. In addition, the Holt Planetarium will be updated with a new structure that will house an interactive dome and projection system and will open Oct. 3. Construction on the planetarium has been in progress since it first closed on Aug. 10.

According to the planetarium's Assistant Director Toshi Komatsu, discussions on constructing a new planetarium have been ongoing since 2000.

The room capacity of the new planetarium will increase from 27 to 45, which hall officials said will be useful during field trips at the hall.

"I'm really excited about the increased capacity," Komatsu said. "I'm hoping to bring astronomy and space science to more people."

The planetarium's installation was funded by donors and will cost about $300,000, said Director of Marketing Communications Janet Noe.

Komatsu said the new planetarium will utilize a negative-pressure dome in which a fan sucks fabric into the necessary dome shape. The planetarium is a temporary renovation that will operate while the hall raises funds for a permanent planetarium with a fixed dome in a different location.

The planetarium will also now be ADA compliant, which Noe said helps to accomplish the hall's mission of fostering science education for all.

A new exhibit at the hall entitled "Facing Mars" will feature a special harness that will allow visitors to experience microgravity similar to that on Mars.

"The installation is a little more involved than we might normally do," Noe said, adding that the construction offered a good opportunity to bring in the new exhibit.

The hall will also feature the new "Ingenuity in Action" activity series, where visitors can participate in workshops and demonstrations, such as building a small Mars rover.

Along with its new features, the hall will introduce new prices when it reopens. Adult ticket prices will increase from $11 to $12, and planetarium tickets will increase from $3 for adults and $2.50 for youth and seniors to a flat $4 rate. UC students and staff can visit the hall for free with valid ID.

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