When the Virginia General Assembly approved its fiscal year 2020 budget last month, it included $2.3 million for a STEM-focused interactive science center extension of the Science Museum of Virginia — a pivotal milestone for the project since plans were developed in 2017.
The center is developed in partnership with the Children’s Science Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The approved budget is to initiate its detailed design on a donated portion of the 424-acre Kincora property in Dulles, Virginia., which is managed by NA Dulles Real Estate Investor, LLC.
The center is slated to be 10 times the size of the current Children’s Science Center facility at Fair Oaks Mall and is estimated to serve 300,000 guests of all ages annually. Plus, it’ll have the benefit of leveraging the resources and expertise available from the museum’s longstanding experience in STEM at its Richmond and Danville locations in Virginia.
Short-term, it’s estimated the new science center will contribute $121 million in economic benefits and $9 million annually, but this wasn’t a lone project. The new center has garnered support at the local, regional and state levels, and elected officials were crucial in securing funding.
“This partnership is a result of leaders from across the state who stepped up to make this dream a reality and found a smart solution to fill a major gap in our region,” said Nene Spivy, executive director for the Children’s Science Center.
The cost of the center is projected at over $70 million, with public partners supporting two-thirds of the funding and the remaining secured through private donations.
Virginia Sen. Janet Howell sponsored the regional science center, and Delegate David Reid, who represents the 32nd district that will be home to the science center, supported the project and its opportunity for economic impact.
And following a unanimous vote, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors said it will contribute $15 million to the public-private partnership project.
Additional support comes from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Visit Fairfax and Visit Loudoun, and the Northern Virginia, Alexandria, Dulles, Loudoun, McLean, Prince William and Reston Chambers.
Grants were also provided from the Fairfax Education Foundation and Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, as were donations from donor families, which helped develop the master plan in 2017. The design plans are led by Roto, an international museum design firm, and include discovering science, space colonization and the fusion of technology with the arts.
The next phase of the project commissions architects and engineers for designs of the facilities and exhibits, and later plans will explore a new name and brand identity for the Northern Virginia’s regional science center. Broad community input will remain a part of the project going forward.