"We were looking at it as a history museum, so one of our challenges was to make it interesting," said Robert Yagura, Academy Studio's design director and a lead designer on the project.
"Natural history is our specialty, and so that's easy, but this was a little different."
The dilemma was intensified by competition from nearby ski facilities where people can experience skiing instead of just reading about it.
"People can just go outside the museum and actually do a bobsled run or a ski jump," Yagura
said."So we needed to do more than just explain the history of those sports.We needed to make it interactive."
To meet that challenge, the designers created a tiny working pinball-machine-like ski jump replica.Museum visitors will send a silver ball down the slope and push a lever to make the ball "jump."
"Everything there is accurate to an actual ski jump," Yagura
said."It's scientifically correct."
The design team also created a rotating cylinder - a "ski Rolodex" - holding different types of skis, and a downhill slalom course that shows the turning movements skiers do on the slopes.
"That's the kind of thing we like to do," Yagura
said."It's fun and interesting, but also good science and physics."
The second floor of the Quinney Sports Center
will be a 2002 Winter Olympics Gallery
.Using mostly video footage, tapes, photos and other media coverage, the exhibit will chronicle the Olympic events - from the figure skating judging scandal to the gold medal champions to the stirring opening and closing ceremonies.
"We had to wait until the Olympics was over to start designing it," Yagura
said."We wanted to start earlier, but the Olympic Committee told us 'no.'"
The exhibit design and fabrication company, founded in 1990, employs between 50 and 100 people - depending on the projects in progress - at an approximately 40,000-square-foot office and warehouse building at 70 Galli Drive in Novato.
Over the years, Academy Studios
has finished more than 150 projects worldwide, including those at natural science museums in North Carolina, Mexico City, Chicago and Taiwan, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Smithsonian Institution.