Orange Coast College
Planetarium and Foucault Pendulum

Costa Mesa, California

Size: 13,500 Square Feet

Construction Cost: Approx. $14M

Architect: HPI Architecture

The 12,000-square-foot Orange Coast College (OCC) Planetarium was designed to replace a 1950s-era planetarium with a 35-person capacity. The new planetarium includes a 129-seat Dome Theater featuring a 50-foot projection screen; an electromagnetic powered Foucault Pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth, an interactive science exhibit hall; National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) “Science on a Sphere” globe to assist students in understanding complex environmental processes; ticket office, gift shop and public restrooms; and administrative staff offices.

The structurally complex building features curved structural steel framed roofs radiating from the central concrete planetarium dome. A 40-foot tall steel framed pendulum tower is impressively supported on the roof without the aid of columns below. Skylights line the edge of the concrete dome, further complicating the roof structure by eliminating the diaphragm connectivity to the dome.