The Children’s Museum of South Dakota has been awarded the Buildy Award 2013, presented by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums to honor recent outstanding museum projects. Suzanne Hegg, Executive Director of CMSD, accepted the national award on behalf of the museum at an awards luncheon held at the Building Museums Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, February 18th. Criteria for the award included: an inclusive planning process, the use of sustainable construction practices, advancing mission through the architecture of the building, impact of the project, and awards previously won.
The Children’s Museum of South Dakota, located in Brookings, is the only children’s museum in the state. CMSD converted a 1936 elementary school building into a vibrant, new 46,000 square foot center of inquiry-based learning and fun for children and their grownups. The museum undertook extensive research before design, sending a representative to tour 50 children’s museums. During the design phase, the museum and its architect, Sarah Aldinger, met the challenges of review board criticism in a positive way by listening and by improving their plan based on community input. During construction, they took every opportunity to address environmental sustainability and community support by actions such as recycling parts of the old building for use in the new construction and giving the school’s old window air conditioners to Habitat for Humanity for local reuse. A large addition to the building houses the Welcome Desk and Café Coteau. The repurposed school building and its grounds feature interactive galleries, designed to spark imagination in children and their grownups, as well as classroom and support spaces. The annual attendance, which approaches 120,000 guests, supports CMSD’s belief that the world is full of possibilities — that big dreams can grow and thrive in small, rural communities.
Public buildings of varying purposes including museums, zoos, conservatories, and the like competed for the national Buildy Award. Other recipients of the 2013 award include The Natural History Museum of Utah and The Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
Ms. Hegg states “I was honored to receive the award on behalf of the CMSD board of directors and our contributors, each of whom played a critical role in the success of the museum project. I was especially pleased to recognize the Pat and Dale Larson family, whose vision and generosity were responsible for the creation of The Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Not only did this family dare to dream that a children’s museum could thrive in our small, rural town, they dreamed audaciously and built a world-class museum.”
Significant contributors to the renovation of the building include Architecture, Inc., Waltz Construction, and Banner Associates. Haizlip Studios and Splitrock Studios designed and fabricated the majority of the exhibits; Confluence developed the landscape design.
Hegg continues, “Working together with the board and all of the contributors who had a part in developing the vision and in building the museum has been a great pleasure and privilege.”