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Structures on All Sides

If you were to contemplate the word structure, what would come to mind first? Would you think of the framework of a well-planned term paper, the outline of an old mansion, or a popular clothing store for men? Now think a little longer: the chair you are sitting in, the bookshelf in your room, the building enclosed around you; countless structures are a part of your everyday environment! The Franklin Institute Science Museum is a place certainly not lacking interesting structure.

Here at The Franklin Institute, fascinating architecture—whether it be a particular part of a room or an exhibit structure—is situated in each hall, standing tall around every corner. If you have already visited, you'll probably recognize some of these familiar forms. If you haven't been to the Museum, these structures may interest you enough to come and see them for yourself.

Memorial Hall Dome Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin National Memorial Hall, designed by the architect John T. Windrim, houses perhaps the grandest structure in the Museum. James Earle Fraser sculpted the 20-foot statue of a seated Franklin from 122 tons of white Seravezza marble. Memorial Hall is 82 feet in length, width, and height. Rare marbles from Italy, France, and Portugal construct many of the structures in the Hall, which was built in imitation of Rome's Pantheon. The self-supporting dome of the ceiling weighs about 1600 tons.


The inviting facade of The Franklin Institute welcomes all visitors.

The outside of The Franklin Institute is a structural wonder all its own. Windrim designed the building in the Classical Revival or "Classical Beaux-Arts" tradition. The entrance facing 20th Street is very impressive; it is made of buff Indiana limestone. The base and the exterior steps were fashioned out of Milford pink granite. The cornerstone for the current location of the Museum (20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) was laid in 1932.


A view of the Bartol Atrium from above.

The Bartol Atrium is the place where you will most likely begin your exploration of The Franklin Institute. It is surrounded by activity on all sides: The Tuttleman IMAX Theater, ticketing and information booths, and exhibit space make it a central hub of the Museum. The Bartol Atrium's most prominent structure cannot go unnoticed; a huge ramp wraps around the entire room, leading visitors down, across, and all around. Check out this view of The Bartol Atrium and inspect the structures on your own.


The Pendulum at ground level.

The Foucault Pendulum is a structure that can be seen from several floors of the Museum. Located in the center of the Pendulum Staircase, you can view the Pendulum in perpetual motion from the third floor all the way down to the ground level. To view the Pendulum or learn more about it, follow the links below.

Pendulum QuickTime movie
Learn more about the Foucault Pendulum.


Experience the thrill of Omnimax.

The Tuttleman IMAX Theater, a domed theater built in May of 1990, has a four-story domed screen, complete with fifty-six speakers, to make your movie-going experience seem like real life. This structure is definitely a feature of The Franklin Institute that you won't want to miss, as it takes you in and makes you feel like a climber on the trek up Mount Everest or a traveler on the journey to one of "The Greatest Places."


Computer technology has created new possibilities for planetarium progress.

The Fels Planetarium was the first section of The Franklin Institute to be completed in the early 1930s, and only the second planetarium built in America. This structure has a Digistar projection system, projecting onto an iron metal sheet dome, which is 45 feet from floor to crown. In the Planetarium, you can see everything from the night skies to laser light shows.


Many of The Franklin Institute's exhibits include structures of all types and sizes. Second floor Bioscience allows you to walk through a human heart 220 times its original size. The Train Factory (on the 1st floor) houses a giant Baldwin Locomotive, and fourth floor Astronomy has a huge telescope for checking out the skies. There are many other exhibit structures to examine and try out, but you'll have to visit The Franklin Institute if you are curious about them!

The world is full of amazing structures to be seen, studied, and appreciated. Did you ever wonder about the actual steps involved in achieving a completed structure? All around us, structures come in many different sizes and shapes. Bridges, dams, skyscrapers, tunnels, towers, and various types of buildings all have specially designed layouts and forms. Architects, structural engineers, and artists have carefully planned each project before it is built. Many things must be considered in such an undertaking, such as what materials will be used or how structural damage in the event of, for instance, an earthquake, can be planned for. These are just a few of the issues that must be thoroughly examined.

We've built a little something of our own by constructing a hotlist of numerous structure sites. Go to a particular section of structural interest, or browse all the links for a variety of information!

Structure Resources on the Web

Believe it or not, there are many different ways to build a bridge: arch, beam, suspension, and cable-stayed are the main types. Explore resources that will introduce you to the fascinating world of bridges!

How tall is the tallest building? When was the first modern skyscraper built? Are there disagreements about which city actually has the tallest structure? Answer all of your tall questions by looking over the skyscraper links.

Large Structures
The world is full of grand, impressive structures. Whether you go under a New York City street, see a massive dam, or learn about one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, you won't believe what enormous things have been constructed.

Small Structures
Not all of these are exactly "small," but they are structures of a somewhat smaller degree than towers and skyscrapers. Have you ever heard of a yurt? Did you know that some people live in COB houses? Find out about these and other "specialized" structures.

Structures in School
Explore some fun new ways to teach and learn about structures and science.

Most structures don't just appear; they have to be built with specific materials. Discover how wood, metals, and other substances are used in the building process.

General Architecture
Without architecture and architects, we wouldn't have the ability to build most structures. Browse some general architecture links to learn about what architects do and how they do it.

Art Resources
This is a collection of various art resources, games, educational sites, and online galleries. Learn to make the important connection between art and science.


For another glimpse of the structural world around us, take a look at Structures.

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