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Science Mill

Johnson City, TX

Science Center, including exhibit halls, theater, classrooms, and outdoor learning spaces

17,000 SF

The Science Mill partners with state agencies, business sponsors, and academic institutions to provide science outreach programs to students in the communities of central Texas. Through interactive exhibits and programs coupled with exposure to science mentors, the Center inspires students to pursue an interest in science and technology-based careers.

Housed in a historic community landmark in the central Texas hill country town of Johnson City, the Science Mill is at the heart of town and is adjacent to the Lyndon B. Johnson family settlement, a National Historic Park operated by the National Park Service.

The adaptation of the Mill into a Science Center prioritizes the stabilization and renovation of the historic structures and introduces minimal connective additions to serve the new science programs and revitalize a recognized community asset.


Design Approach

The design concept removes the deteriorated wood structures and retains the original mill buildings, various equipment hoppers, and gears to create an environment for science discovery. The linear mill sequence is extended with a new transparent entrance hall that connects the separate buildings, and a new corridor transforms the existing silos into spaces for unique exhibits. A new stair and elevator tower adjacent to the entry provides access to the two-story concrete mill storage building that incorporates gallery support and workshop functions.

Clad in rusted steel and glass, the new linking addition is conceived as a modern continuation of the linear form of the mill and establishes a material connection to the silos and metal roofs of the existing mill.

While embracing the authentic aura and patina of the old mill, this approach creates a minimal palette that complements the more colorful and energetic exhibits that will enhance the identity of the new science center.

This linear composition is flanked by an entrance courtyard to the east and a gangplank that connects to a bus drop off area at the street. A building at the corner of the site, not part of the original mill complex, houses additional gallery space and a small restaurant that serves science center visitors and creates additional activity along the street. West of the mill, a garden adjacent to the National Park will soon be a setting for outdoor science exhibits.