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Recap: MAAM Building Museums Symposium

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Last weekend we had the opportunity to present at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums’ 2017 Building Museums Symposium in Washington, D.C. 3north’s Jay Hugo and Andrea Almond, and Elizabeth Voelkel of the Science Museum of Virginia (SMV) spoke with museum professionals and fellow designers about our recent partnership to develop the Museum’s campus master plan.

The Museum was looking to strategically utilize its campus, engage more broadly with the community, and contribute to the revitalization of the Broad Street corridor. It was important that the master plan aligned with the Museum’s long-term objectives and took into account its unique opportunities and challenges. To make sure we accomplished this, we engaged SMV in 3north’s Intangible Qualities (IQ) process – a visioning and stakeholder engagement tool that uncovers and celebrates the underlying unique and compelling characteristics of a particular place.

We view the Intangible Qualities process as an essential step to creating an actionable, durable master plan that’s enthusiastically supported by key stakeholders. Historic research and a lively charrette result in key themes that guide our design. At the Symposium, we shared our thoughts about leveraging the IQ process to create meaningful organizational change – both in terms of design and process – extending beyond a capital projects mindset to support a consistent vision and decision-making framework for smaller-scale, day-to-day initiatives.

Here are just a few of the “IQ Essentials” that we shared:

  • Tell YOUR story: Every organization has a story to tell that is fully and uniquely its own. What’s more, people are eager to hear it. For example, when the Museum let us know that they were striving to operate sustainably across all levels, we provided recommendations in the master plan that would focus these efforts and inform large and small decisions alike.
  • Mine existing resources: Symposium attendees confirmed it – the majority of organizations are drowning in plans! Existing planning documents are helpful and are an important part of providing context for your master plan, but can be overwhelming. The good news is that these documents can serve as valuable resources to inform the IQ process and strengthen the resulting master plan.
  • Leverage your history to embrace your future: The Science Museum has a particularly rich history – it’s located in a historic former train station designed by John Russell Pope and for decades was one of Richmond’s major transportation hubs. Engaging in the IQ process with SMV enabled us to develop creative design solutions to celebrate the building’s legacy and use that to inform future expansion and programming goals.

As a key component to 3north’s master planning process, the IQ process gives our team and our clients the opportunity to dig deeper into their site and their organization. To learn more about the details of our work with the Science Museum of Virginia, feel free to explore the materials below.

To take a look at the Science Museum of Virginia’s Intangible Qualities document, use this link.

To see the resulting Master Plan, use this link.