By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Franklin Institute celebrated a milestone Tuesday in the construction of the new state-of-the art Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion.
It all started will $10-million and a dream. Nicholas and Athena Karabots had a vision to educate children from tough, economically challenged neighborhoods. They visited the Franklin Institute and, believing that dream could come true, they donated $10 million two years ago to help expand the institution.
On Tuesday afternoon, sledgehammers in hand, they saw the reality of their vision as they hammered through a third floor wall of the Franklin Institute, leading the way to their aptly-named pavilion.
“It’s 53,000 square feet,” says Dennis Wint, president and CEO of the Franklin Institute. “It will have exhibition galleries on the third floor, second floor will house our new exhibition on the brain and the first floor is for our new education complex.”
Wint says the expansion is actually part of the original plan for the institute, which was supposed to take up an entire city block. But the economy of the 1930s meant only two of the four planned wings could be built. The Karabots pavilion moves the Institute one step closer.
“We already had a broad reach,” says Wint, “but now, thanks to the Karabots’ donation, we will be have more space and be able to bring more children in.”
Even without windows or interior walls, with the beams, floors and outer construction in place, if you squint you can see almost see the vision.
“It the greatest thrill for my wife and I to see the progress on an ongoing basis,” Nicholas Karabots told the audience on Tuesday, “to be able to it expanded here and to see all the kids that are going to come in and eventually be inspired by the science that you folks pass on to them.”
The Franklin Institute is scheduled to open the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion in June 2014.