The new Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park and Museum has broken ground on the Rowan University campus in Glassboro, N.J. The project’s design was inspired by the core themes of preservation, exploration, and education.
The museum is situated within an active dinosaur fossil dig site in Southern New Jersey that contains thousands of fossils and provides a view into life during the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago. The dig site was used for mining for over a century and is now a 4-acre quarry, surrounded by a 65-acre property that allows “citizen scientists” to dig for fossils alongside Rowan University’s paleontologists.
The design concept for the site was envisioned as a set of metaphorical camera obscuras. The site, the experience, and the architecture are all envisioned as a series of lenses. The building is nestled within the natural landscape as a series of small-scale pavilions that frame the dig site and encourage engagement with the present moment.
The 44,000-sf museum will feature a heavy timber and cross-laminated timber structure and wood cladding to maximize the use of renewable materials. It will act as a learning and research center and an exhibit experience with laboratory space and programs. The museum will feature three immersive galleries with fossils from the late Cretaceous period, full-scale reconstructions of extinct creatures, hands-on learning experiences, live animal attractions, virtual reality, connections to the natural world, and community gathering spaces.
The project will be New Jersey’s largest public net zero facility. Sustainable features include geothermal wells for ground-source heating and cooling systems and a photo voltaic solar field. These features will allow 100% of the energy used by the museum to come from a combination of green energy from New Jersey’s power grid and the renewable energy produced on-site.
The Fossil Museum is slated for completion in 2023.