August 22, 2017
The Lehigh Valley took a big step forward Tuesday toward the development of a STEM-focused, state-of-the-art facility that city planners hope will drive educational tourism for decades to come.
In a joint announcement, the city of Easton and the Da Vinci Science Center revealed a rendering of a multi-million dollar science center proposed in downtown Easton. Billed as Da Vinci Science City, the 175,000-square-foot facility's goal will be "to bring science to life and lives to science," according to a website backing the project.
Envisioned as a regional hub and economic development opportunity, Da Vinci Science City has been in the works since September 2015, when trustees of the Allentown-based science center began considering an expansion locally, either in Bethlehem or Easton.
Easton ultimately prevailed late last year and pledged $30 million towards the project, including $6 million for the land and $24 million for construction and exhibits.
Centerpieces of the proposed facility, designed by San Francisco-based architecture firm EHDD, would be a 500,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, an immersion theatre with virtual reality presentations and a creativity studio for project-based learning.
Over the course of the next week, public forums will be held at various locations as part of an 18-month planning period. Construction at the site, currently occupied by a Days Inn on South Third Street, is targeted to begin in mid-2019 and wrap up for a grand opening in 2021.
An ongoing feasibility study for Da Vinci Science City will continue through December as planners seek to secure an additional $100 million to finance the project.
Those backing the development say the facility will attract 600,000 visitors annually with a direct economic impact of $45 million per year.
From an educational standpoint, the goal of Da Vinci Science City is to develop more STEM professionals to meet demand and fill higher-earning positions in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about the project here.