Museum Progress Continues in 2013
Roundhouse Project Advances
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The Strasburg Township Planning Commission has approved the latest design concepts produced by Erdy McHenry Architecture of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, having determined that the concepts comply with the township's Railroad Heritage Zoning District design guidelines.
In late 2010, the Pennsylvania Governor's Office of the Budget released $500,000 in capital funds for the design of a 16,000-square-foot roundhouse in the outdoor yard, to be located at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania's existing turntable.
"The main purpose of the building is preservation," says Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania director Charles Fox.
"The new roundhouse will allow for permanent, climate-controlled storage for historic artifacts that currently reside outdoors and are deteriorating from exposure to the elements. It will shelter six Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives — the M1b No. 6755, L1 No. 520, K4s No. 3750, E6s No. 460, B6sb No. 1670 and H10s No. 7688 — and will hopefully recapture a bit of the magic that once existed when the PRR's historic collection was stored at the Northumberland, Pennsylvania roundhouse in the 1950s and 1960s."
A major source of inspiration was the historic design created in the late 1920s for the Reading Company roundhouse that once stood in Cressona, Pennsylvania. The classic fan-shaped layout embodied in the design also proved to be the best solution to the space constraints in the Museum's outdoor yard. The roundhouse design will utilize brick, steel and glass, as well as a clerestory-style roof, which maximizes the use of natural lighting. "The design both complements the historical architecture of neighboring Strasburg and relates to the more modern architectural styles already employed here at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania," Fox notes.
A hard surface, ADA-accessible pathway leading from the Museum will allow visitors to easily access the roundhouse. The interior layout of the facility will provide a safe and adequate space for visitors to view and photograph the exhibits. It also will feature a climate-controlled environment, via a geothermal HVAC system, to aid in visitor comfort and in the preservation of the trains.
During the construction of the roundhouse, the Museum's 1928 Reading Company turntable will be completely refurbished and updated to ensure its safe and dependable operation for years to come. The tracks surrounding the turntable also will be rebuilt and enhanced safety fencing will be added around the turntable pit.
It is anticipated that the Governor's Office of the Budget will release an additional $6.1 million in capital funds for the actual construction of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania's roundhouse in the upcoming fiscal year. The current timetable should see the roundhouse placed out for construction bids later in 2013. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in the spring of 2014, with the facility likely to be completed late in 2015.
"We believe the roundhouse design represents a unique approach to displaying and preserving our collections," states Fox. "It is an innovative solution to the challenge of saving more of our historic artifacts for posterity. This project has been part of our plans for several decades. Our members, volunteers, visitors, donors, partners and staff all look forward to the addition of the roundhouse to enhance the experience of railroading for today's and future generations."