Thursday, April 24, 2014

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New planetarium to bring stars closer to Austin than ever before

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TWC News: New planetarium to bring stars closer to Austin than ever before
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A new partnership is slated to bring the cosmos closer to Austin.

KUD International has agreed to build Austin’s first planetarium at the corner of North Congress Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It will be the largest planetarium in Texas.

The mixed-use facility on the edge of the Capitol Complex will not only feature the planetarium, but a state-of-the-art science and technology museum, retail shops and condominiums.

The estimated price is $240 million with the planetarium itself costing $95 million to build.

Torvald Hessel, Executive Director of the Austin Planetarium, said Austin is the largest city without a full-fledged science museum or planetarium.

"Science museums are absolutely vital if we want to teach our children to be interested in science, in technology, in medical science, all those sciences are so important,” he said. “Right now, we truly have a major void in Austin and we are going to fill that.

KUD International and Austin Planetarium have submitted a proposal to the Texas Facilities Commission to approve a ground lease on the property.

Hessell said he hopes to break ground on the 157,000 square foot facility next year.

If approved, the facility is expected to open its doors in 2016 or 2017.

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