The Museum of Science & History is giving the public the first look at the exterior design for its proposed future facility on the Downtown Jacksonville Northbank.
MOSH released renderings May 2 for a 130,000-square-foot museum by international design firm DLR Group and Jacksonville-based kasper architects + associates.
Museum CEO Bruce Fafard said they completed eight months of data evaluation on the city-owned Shipyards site and community input.
“They really wanted to make sure it was representative of our community,” Fafard said.
He said the nonprofit MOSH board of directors’ goal is for the museum, expected to break ground at the end of 2023, to be “internationally renowned.”
“They (architects) blended both the historical components and the desire to make sure that the building itself from an architectural perspective really stood out on the waterfront and made a statement to Jacksonville, to Florida and, quite frankly, to the whole country that it is a wonderful museum,” Fafard said.
In October 2020, MOSH announced plans to relocate from 1025 Museum Circle on the Downtown Southbank, its location since 1967.
The designs released May 2 must be approved by the city Downtown Development Review Board, which ensures developers meet the Northbank and Southbank design standards.
Museum officials will also return to the Downtown Investment Authority board in June or July with a site plan for the project, Fafard said.
The DIA board voted 6-0 in January to sign off on the details of a 40-year lease with MOSH for 2½ acres at the Shipyards near Hogans Creek at $1 per year.
The DIA term sheet describes the site as part of 6.86 acres on the Shipyards that includes 1½-acres of shared space with a public park designed by MOSH that blends with the museum’s landscaping.
Fafard said MOSH and the DIA are working through legal language of the agreement with the city Office of General Counsel.
If the DIA board approves the site plan, the full deal will head to City Council for final approval.
Fafard said MOSH expects the development cost will exceed the initial estimated $85 million set in 2018.
Leadership initially intended to rebuild on the Southbank but the pandemic, along with material and labor costs and availability, changed that.
MOSH is working on a final price with its construction management team Balfour Beatty and Stellar.
To date, Fafard said the organization has raised $33 million in its MOSH Genesis capital campaign and has a goal to raise $30 million more by the end of 2023.
The total includes more than $500,000 raised April 30 at MOSH’s “sold-out” inaugural GALAXY fundraiser where the nonprofit gave attendees an early look at the new designs.
When asked if the museum will ask for supplemental funding from the city to close the gap, Fafard said MOSH is “pursuing all avenues” and intends to seek federal and state grants, local funding resources as well as area support from businesses and corporations.
“Frankly, we haven’t even begun to seriously put an ask to the business community,” he said.
He said he has spoken with business leaders that moved to Jacksonville in recent years. “They want to support the project,” he said.
Now Fafard says the design work will turn toward the museum’s interior.
Fafard said planners are considering a multipurpose theater with a high-resolution, wall-size LED screen that could support TED Talk-style conferences, corporate meetings and educational presentations.
The new museum will also have a cafe and outdoor and rooftop programming, he said.
The MOSH board hopes to finalize a contract within 30 days with an exhibit designer, Fafard said.
He said exhibits will focus on three “hubs” — innovation, culture and the natural world.
MOSH will work with local schools including Edward Waters University; Jacksonville University; University of North Florida; Florida State College at Jacksonville; and curriculum development officials from Duval County Public Schools to make sure the content at MOSH is accurate.
“It gives us an opportunity also to enhance the visitor experience and make that experience much more interactive, much more immersive,” he said.