On Thursday, February 11th, 2016, ANF Architects celebrated the completion of the Autozone Dome, Sharpe Planetarium Renovation at Pink Palace with a "Friends & Family Night at the Museum."
It was a festive celebration with food & drinks served in the lobby before a private showing of "Firefall" (a look at meteors, comets and the history of the earth) in the newly-renovated space.
Prior to the show, Lee Askew, the project's director, talked about the project noting that as architects, a planetarium design project comes along maybe once in a lifetime and he has enjoyed being part of this one. Lee thanked the ANF designers Derrick Choo, project manager; Liz Engel, interior designer, as well as the engineers from OGCB. In addition, Lee thanked Cheryl Swift, the City of Memphis Project Manager and Phillip Groce, our planetarium designer specialty consultant. Barnes and Brower were the contractors and did a great job making this project happen.
Steve Pike, Director of Museums, thanked Lee for all his hard work on the project and spoke about the importance of the planetarium update and how it has improved the museum's ability to inspire and engage young and old about our natural world. Full-dome theater shows are spectacular, and they are only part of the story. The new digital capacity makes the planetarium interactive. The new technology can transport you to the farthest corner of the known universe in the blink of an eye or it can be used to transport you around inside the human body.
The new Sharpe Planetarium represents the second phase of the Pink Palace's Master Plan. The planetarium now features new seating, LED lighting and a new 50-foot dome for greater reflectivity. The heart of the planetarium is the new digital projector by Konica Minolta and this represents a quantum shift from yesteryear’s servo-mechanical star machines to today’s digital video projection technology. The new Konica Minolta Full-Dome Digital Video planetarium system completely immerses you in imagery, sound & comfort like never before.
ANF was honored to have designed this unique renovation project and is excited to continue our work at the Pink Palace that began with the Master Plan, followed by the updated CTI 3D Giant Theater (IMAX conversion) that opened in March of 2014.
Future phases include a full renovation of the Mansion, scheduled to start construction in June of this year. Museum renovations will include major upgrades of the exhibits, the exhibition building and the surrounding grounds. A new entry to the museum is also being planned for the exhibition building.
The new planetarium reopened to public on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. The planetarium first opened in 1954.
Read more about the planetarium grand opening.