Anderson Hancock Planetarium beginning to take shape

Concrete trucks rolled onto campus recently as the first of two major pours got underway to build the Anderson Hancock Planetarium's rounded walls.

Construction of the 4,400-square-foot annex to the Rickey Science Center began shortly after the 2008 Commencement Ceremony in May. By July 18, the foundational rebar was tied and the curved wood concrete forms were in place, ready for workers to begin filling them will concrete. Workers with Grae-Con Construction Inc., the company hired to build the multi-million dollar science center, spent nearly six hours pouring 110 cubic yards of concrete in place. Superintendent Roger Willford said the first section poured will take seven days to cure to a tensile strength of 4,000 psi.

"Then they'll strip the forms and pour the second section," Willford said.

The concrete portion of the walls will be 1.4-feet thick. Block and brick will also be laid, once the walls have cured.

"Everything's going real well," Willford said. "We're right on schedule and we haven't had any rain delays, which has helped us."

Dave Rickey '78 and his wife, Brenda, brought the planetarium to life last year when the couple announced that they were donating money toward building a state-of-the-art facility in honor of Dave's former professors, Dr. Whit Hancock and Dr. Les Anderson.

"The construction costs have increased and the Rickeys have graciously agreed to increase their gift to $3 million," said Lori Lewis, Vice President for Advancement. "They originally pledged $2.7 million for the project."

The College is working to identify a donor or a group of donors to establish the $1.5 million endowed professorship for the Anderson Hancock Planetarium.

Fred Smith, director of Marietta's Physical Plant, said 98 percent of the design of the planetarium is complete, with the remaining 2 percent consisting of specialized equipment design. The specialized equipment includes the 40-foot diameter dome, which is being constructed by Ohio firm Astro-Tec, flexible theater seating, the sound and lighting systems, and a dual projector.

Dr. Dennis Kuhl, Chair of the Physics Department, said the Anderson Hancock Planetarium will be equipped with a hybrid projection system, which offers a high quality projection with pedagogical advantages for hooking students' curiosity with the galaxies and science.

"If you want to show a specific galaxy, you can zoom in on it; you can also do video and a fly through of the galaxy," Kuhl said.

The projection system combines the functionality of a full dome digital video projector with an analog projector.

"The hybrid system that has been put together is fully integrated," Kuhl said. "One computer control will allow you to control both projectors."

The planetarium is expected to open this December.