“At noon, the figure of light is most complete during any single day,” Wong says. “When the Sun is highest in the sky during summer solstice, a full and pure circle of light aligns with an inscribed circle on the plaza’s pavement.”
Science and the stars were the inspiration for the design, which focuses on the most crucial of all orbital movements, explains Wong: “The daily rotation of our Earth and its journey around our star.”
Another one of the museum’s highlights is the Sphere, which looks like an enormous planet that has dropped into the core of the museum. It almost touches the ground (but not quite). This silver metallic sphere, punctured with circles, is home to a planetarium theater that tracks the Sun, Moon, and the stars. Its overwhelming size ties into Wong’s favorite Carl Sagan quote: “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”
The last and final feature along museumgoers’ way is the Inverted Dome, which is high up on the museum’s rooftop. The roof allows an unfettered view of the sky, with glass panels that look downward into the museum, offering a pause between the macro and the micro.
Above all, Wong wanted to take us elsewhere, beyond the beyond. “We wanted to highlight actual astronomical phenomena that have occurred here on Earth—things that have become more removed from our consciousness, particularly in modern urban life,” he says.
They also wanted to avoid predictable, clean lines. “We wanted the architecture to reflect the essence of the universe,” Wong says. “There are no straight lines or right angles in space.”