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The Franklin Institute's New Pavilion

The  Pavillion is LEED Silver Certified and offers an education center, climate-controlled gallery spaces, conference center, and offices.

Services Provided
The Franklin Institute
Project Contact
Jim Bilella, PE
Vice President, Market Leader for Buildings & Development

The Franklin Institute's Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, Philadelphia, PA  

The addition of the $41 million Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion transformed the Franklin Institute in a number of ways.  This three-story, 53,000 sf, LEED Silver Certified space houses the museum’s largest permanent exhibit, Your Brain, a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery, conference center, offices, and a new state-of-the-art education center.  Additionally, the Pavilion added 8,000 sf of climate-controlled gallery space for traveling exhibits.


In collaboration with SaylorGregg, Urban provided site civil and specialty mechanical and electrical engineering design services for the expansion and addition to this famous museum.

Franklin Institute - MEP

Specialty Design

Following extensive coordination with the owner and other consultants, we developed several specialty designs to meet the museum’s complex needs and sustainability goals.


The stormwater management design incorporates rain gardens for water quality treatment and underground detention for rate control into the landscape and site layout. Urban obtained stormwater and sewage permits and approvals to meet City of Philadelphia regulations.


We designed the mechanical and electrical systems for museum quality environments and incorporated archival climate control to accommodate world-class traveling exhibits, as well as the Your Brain exhibit.


History Requires Modern Preservation

Mechanical systems had to meet the precise climate-control needs of the traveling exhibit space, which houses priceless artifacts,  some dating back thousands of years and others featured in the world-renowned Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art.


LEED Certified and Within Budget

The Pavilion's design integrated many unique elements that will benefit the museum for years to come.  The open layout of the three-story addition allows for improved visitor flow and circulation throughout the museum.  The education center offers wireless connections and videoconferencing technology.  Through a variety of innovative methods, the LEED Silver expansion provides for a 17.5% energy reduction.  Other sustainable elements include LED light fixtures (where possible), energy-efficient chillers, vegetated green roof, countertops with recycled aluminum, and electric vehicle-charging stations in the parking garage.


The collaborative efforts of the design team and the owners allowed the museum to remain open during construction.  The project was completed within budget and exceeded the museum's needs. 




  • Museum quality environments
  • Archival climate control for collections
  • LEED Silver Certified project
  • Stormwater management and site grading
  • Utility assessment and relocation
  • Extensive coordination with owner and other consultants
  • ACEC National 2016 Engineering Excellence Award




News ACEC National Franklin Institute 2016


Changing Earth Franklin Institute

Get in Touch
Vice President, Market Leader for Buildings & Development 215.922.8080