The Chicago Children’s Museum, located on Navy Pier, offers an amazing new experience, Cloud Buster, designed by Kevin Winters of Ganymede Design Group. Inspired by the mission and structure of the particle accelerator complex at Fermilab, and incorporating references to Chicago’s rich social culture, the towering structure invokes a sense of awe in all visitors.
The custom designed, climbable sculpture reflects the universal behaviors of childhood such as learning to assess and take risks, pushing one’s body to do new things, challenging one’s sense of spatial awareness, honing critical thinking skills, embracing a world of fantasy and imaginative play, and learning to take turns and negotiate with peers – not always easy but certainly necessary life skills.
A journey through Cloud Buster supports healthy physical activity as children balance and maneuver around others and through multi-dimensional terrains, encouraging the body to move in different ways. The climbing experience continues to develop connections in the brain, build confidence in what the body can achieve, foster a growing sense of independence, and empower children with a great feeling of accomplishment upon their return from a journey into the unknown.
Looking at Cloud Buster Kevin reflects, “Sometimes I think of this as a type of machine a child would make – a mechanism whose sole purpose is to inspire fantasy and imagination. Now, everyone’s experience is different. For me, as I move through it, I need to compress and expand my body. I’m never on a level surface so my muscles are always adjusting to a unique balance and footing as I negotiate the structure. Visually, I have a new appreciation of the volume I’m moving through and I become acutely aware of my place in the 3 dimensions of space, and my emotional response to this marks my place in the dimension of time.”
“Cloud Buster was built with the understanding that every experience, like the artistic process, is different with every approach. From every vantage point and with every ascent, Cloud Buster delivers a singular experience to each person, each time.”
Jennifer Farrington, Chicago Children’s Museum President and CEO
“Cloud Buster was a long time in the making. Throughout the entire development process – from concept to design, fabrication to installation – Kevin collaborated, guided, problem-solved and celebrated with us. His knowledge of fabrication methods and processes was invaluable during the final stages of the project. Kevin’s personality and work ethic endeared him to every museum staffer who had the pleasure to interact with him. We look forward to working with him as we consider options for future add-ons and enhancements to our climbable sculpture.”
Rick Garmon, Chicago Children’s Museum Project Manager
Structural Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti
General Contractor: Turner Construction
Steel Fabrication and Installation: Vector Custom Fabricating, Inc. / MJ Erectors
Millwork: Merkel Woodworking Inc.
Photos and poster courtesy of the Chicago Children’s Museum