A snowflake perched atop a rock crater - this is the architectural metaphor that is Science North. The snowflake is symbolic of the glaciation that sculpted Canada's northern landscape. A snowflake is also a crystal, the basic component of so many natural minerals. The rock crater is symbolic of the Sudbury Basin.
The Sudbury Basin is a unique geological phenomenon. One hundred kilometres wide and 15 kilometres deep, the edge of the basin is the source of nickel, copper and 15 other minerals that have made Sudbury one of Canada's largest mining centres.
The architects created two snowflakes. The smaller hexagonal building houses administration offices, a restaurant and a cafeteria. The larger hexagon, the exhibit building, rests atop a rock outcrop some 60 metres away at an elevation some 15 metres higher. The elevation difference allowed the architects to link the buildings by an underground rock tunnel beneath the exhibit building. At the end of this rock tunnel is an underground cavern, used as a theatre, an exhibit area for special displays and as an auditorium for guest presentations.
From the Vale Cavern, visitors proceed to the exhibit floors by way of a glass-enclosed ramp or by elevator. The view is dominated by a panorama of Ramsey Lake, a huge Fin Whale skeleton and by the Creighton Fault, a unique geological feature.
The exterior of Science North's glittering snowflakes is clad in stainless steel, the key ingredient of which is Sudbury's nickel. The architectural blend of snowflake and rock crater is the work of the same two teams of architects that were co-leaders of the original conceptual study and feasibility analysis for Science North.
Raymond Moriyama, who designed Science North, was also the architect for the Ontario Science Centre, the Metropolitan Toronto Library and the Scarborough Town Centre, and has achieved international acclaim for his work. Yallowega Bélanger Architecture of Sudbury are the architects for the Science North IMAX Theatre, the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, the Science North Special Exhibits Hall and Science North’s former Virtual Voyages motion simulator, which now houses the digital dome Planetarium.