Kath Williams + Associates Projects

ExplorationWorks!


Helena, Montana
LEED Certified - 2009
LEED NC v2.2
Owner:Community Works, Inc./ExploartionWorks!
Developer:Community of Helena, Montana
Architect:Mosaic Architects
Helena, Montana
Energy Modeler:Eco3 Design
Commissioning Agent:CTA Architects/Engineers
LEED AP:Lesly Mroczkowski
Senior LEED AP:Senior LEED AP: Kath Williams

ExplorationWorks! is an Interactive Museum of Science and Culture in the Great Northern Town Center in downtown Helena, Montana. This innovative, hands-on museum of exploration and discovery offers programs and exhibits that appeal to diverse audiences in an engaging discovery of the sciences, technology, social sciences, culture, and everyday life.  Leadership for this project was provided by CommunityWorks, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3.

ExplorationWorks! provides programs, exhibits, workshops and classes, mentoring, leadership development and on-the-job training to youth, families and community members. The museum, classroom, and meeting spaces serve the greater Helena community, surrounding rural counties, as well as being a tourist destination in Western Montana along the corridor between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

Innovative, interactive, elegant, playful and distinctive, these spaces are a different world. The all new center features:
• Approximately 11,000 square feet of space specifically designed to accommodate
interactive exhibits for people of all ages, as well as public gathering and classroom
spaces.
• Safe and stimulating early childhood exhibit floor, incorporating best practices in hands-on education and early childhood development.
• Fully equipped workshop, open to public view - a permanent exhibit where other exhibits
are designed and constructed.
• State-of-the-art computer and communications technology.
• Sustainable construction demonstrating energy efficient, environmentally responsible
technologies -- the building itself will be a permanent exhibit with LEED certification.

The site for the project, a newly-developed town center reclaimed from a brownfield, was chosen because of its proximity to public transportation, easy walking access by locals and limited driving for tourists off the main highway. Ample existing parking saved the limited economic resources at this project’s disposal.

Resources were extremely limited on this ambitious community project. What made the project possible was the nearly 1,000 hours of documented, contributed labor by the citizens of the region. Everyone, it seems, pitched in to help. Materials were donated, hours of physical labor were spent, and numerous organizations came forward with encouragement and support.

What has resulted is a new learning center for Montana. The pride in this accomplishment alone makes one of the many lessons learned to be—LEED projects can encourage community involvement in the design and construction processes to allow for a broad spectrum of experiences and give individuals a feeling of connectivity to the building of a personal, family, and community asset.