Construction Begins on Sacramento’s Historic Powerhouse Science Center, Designed by Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

May 30, 2018


Project advances rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of prominent landmark with new planetarium expansion.

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture’s (D+B) design for the Powerhouse Science Center re-envisions a historic riverfront power station as a hub for science education, exploration and advancement in the Sacramento region. An iconic structure visible from Interstate 5, the project will serve as the region’s premiere science center. The closest facility of this caliber is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Otto Construction is the contractor building the facility and a Groundbreaking Ceremony is scheduled for May 31, 2018 at the site.

The project includes the rehabilitation of the former Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Power Station B, a dilapidated 1912-era power station siting prominently on the banks of the Sacramento River at 400 Jibboom Street. As a premiere science exploration and education facility, the rehabilitation celebrates the original use of the building and the technological advances of energy production early in the 20th Century.

As a primary component of the City’s Riverfront activation plans, the Powerhouse Science Center anchors Robert T. Matsui Waterfront Park and borders the southern terminus of the 32-mile American River Bike Trail.

Planetarium Addition

A new two-story addition projects from the east side of the existing power station, containing an entry lobby, main vertical circulation, classrooms, offices and a cafe in addition to a 120-seat planetarium. Prominently on display with a zinc-clad hemispheric dome, the Planetarium rises above the building’s mass. As representation of our place in the universe, the addition’s facade and building mass is sectioned by multiple planes, creating continuous vector lines extending across the building and site. From satellites to world landmarks, the lines form connections with local and global points of interest.

Power Station B Historic Rehabilitation & Stabilization

Vacant for over half a century, the historic building envelope is undergoing stabilization and complete rehabilitation with construction of a new floor level inside for exhibits. Rehabilitation involves the stabilization of the existing reinforced concrete and steel building. The bipartite layout of the former power generation building consisting of a boiler room and a turbine room will be added onto. Inside the large open volumes of the historic structure, a new intermediate floor will be added to increase exhibit space.

Rehabilitation of the significant historic features of the power station will be integrated with distinct but complimentary contemporary architecture reflecting the advancement of technology. Powerhouse Science Center is targeting a LEED certification rating of Silver.

Project History

River Station B was designed in 1912 in the Beaux Arts style by prominent San Francisco architect Willis Polk, was formally decommissioned in 1954 and remained vacant since. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historic Places, and the Sacramento Register of Historic & Cultural Resources. PG&E sold the building in 1957 to Associated Metals Company which then sold it to the State of California in 1960. Eventually the City of Sacramento gained ownership in 2002. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has donated funds with naming rights for the new facility.

About Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B), founded in ­1950 in Sacramento, Calif., with an office in San Francisco, is a mid-size firm headquartered in the California capital. The firm serves corporate, public, and institutional markets with solutions achieved through collaboration and innovation. Committed to a sustainable future, D+B brings expertise in architecture, master planning, interiors, graphic design, and construction services. Recent projects include the E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts, Sacramento State Parking Structure 5 and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District Headquarters renovation.

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