When you go out to the end of Museum Campus, an unusually shaped building stretches out to the lakefront. It seems to be a mausoleum with its stony exterior, arched dome, and lack of windows. But with a pointed half-circle of steel and glass surrounding it, this building looks more like a space ship. This spectacular structure is the art deco Adler Planetarium. What goes on inside is nothing short of amazing, with simulations of the stars via the latest in projection technology. And the architecture of the building itself is worth some attention.
Architecture Ernest A. Grunsfeld designed the building in 1930. You may not have heard of him because his specialty was actually modernist homes, not cultural buildings. But for the Alder Planetarium, named after businessman Max Adler, Grunsfeld won a prestigious award, and his design has stood the test of time. The 12-sided structure topped with a dome communicates its unique character through its unusual shape. The pink and grey quality of the textured stone blends into the earthy ground while providing a contrast with the blue of the lake and sky around.
In the '90s, a major addition altered the shape of the Adler Planetarium. Lohan Associates of Chicago designed this steel and glass partially underground structure that wraps around the original building. From the side it's like a pyramid, and contrasted with the historic architecture around it beckons the pyramid of the Louvre of Paris. From inside the Adler, gorgeous views of the lake abound, and sunlight streams in to light exhibits.
The spectacle of the theaters in the Adler Planetarium, along with the exhibits, will capture your eye when you visit. Don't overlook the sleek modern lines of the historic architecture, which foresee a modernist shift into a then future era of space travel.
Inspired to check out the Adler sometime soon? Destination Solar System invites audiences to tour the Solar System like never before through the state-of-the-art technology of the Grainger Sky Theater. Travel hundreds of millions of miles in just seconds on an adventure-filled tour of the hottest hot spots and the coldest, stormiest and most spectacular sights in the Solar System await curious space explorers of all ages.