With a $2.5 million infusion from the State of Arizona, the interest around the International Dark Sky Discovery Center (IDSDC) in Fountain Hills, along with the pace and excitement, has picked up. The funding is designated for design and engineering.
The IDSDC has announced that the award-winning Scottsdale firm of Swaback Architects and Planners has been selected to begin the detailed design work. Senior Partner Jon Bernhard, a decades-long resident of Fountain Hills, is leading the design team. Already, Bernhard, his team and representatives of the IDSDC Board have visited the planetariums at the Mesa Community College and Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the Ashton B. Taylor Auditorium at Mayo Clinic, and will soon be visiting the Rancho Mirage Observatory near Palm Springs, Calif.
IDSDC President Joe Bill said Bernhard will rely on expertise from specialty design firms who have experience with facilities that will make up the components of the IDSDC including the observatory, planetarium, inspiration theater and immersion zone.
Bill said Steve Chucri, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors representative for District 2 including Fountain Hills, has been the most recent public official to offer support to the IDSDC mission and vision.
“The education, research and tourism the International Dark Sky Discovery Center will bring to Maricopa County makes this project beneficial to our community. I support the development of this unique, forward-thinking, state-of-the-art facility and look forward to its opening,” Chucri said.
The first steps being taken by the architectural team is the concept design which, when ready, will provide some high-tech views of the planned facility, according to Bill. The concept design should be complete early in 2022. The team will then begin work on the detailed building plans for the facility.
The IDSDC is estimated to be an $18 million to $20 million project, all of which is expected to be raised through private donations. The Town of Fountain Hills has provided the location site near the Library/Museum and adjacent to the Community Garden.
Information regarding opportunities to donate is located a the IDSDC website, darkskycenter.org.