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The parking crunch being as it is, buses that deliver schoolchildren to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center no longer stay in the parking lot but proceed to a satellite lot to wait until the show’s over. On rainy days, that leaves the kids with no place to eat lunch.
The 55-year-old Morehead building is ready for an expansion, and what it needs most is a lunchroom. Construction of that and a larger lobby, a new gift shop and a bridge between the two ends of the building will necessitate closing the planetarium for 14 months, likely starting in early 2006.
The 10,000-square-foot expansion, which is seen as a key component in the revitalization of Franklin Street, will not extend into the existing parking lot. The new gift shop likely will be a franchise with an established commercial science chain. The expansion could include display space for the center’s new mission of showcasing Carolina’s science programs other than those related to astronomy.
The expansion is expected to cost $10 million, $6 million of which will come from University funds, including overhead receipts – the money the University receives for indirect costs related to research grants. The Morehead is working to raise the other $4 million from private donations.
Expected to be finished in April 2007, the expansion will be designed by Verner Johnson and Associates, which has built 140 science centers worldwide, including the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.