Funded in part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the planetarium and learning center represents a metaphor of space and space exploration. Kessler accomplished this through shape and color. The light red, orange, and yellow of the exterior metal walls of the conical main body are the color of the sun outside the atmosphere, and the form resembles one of three boosters on a rocket. Round windows mimic objects in space, and black metal cladding of the wings symbolizes the blackness of space. The elliptical floor of the lobby is embedded with stars at the latitude and longitude of Bay City on February 5, 1997, the day the planetarium was dedicated.
The circular main body of the building rises from a lobby and domed planetarium theater to an observation deck on which telescopes afford views of whatever is out there—a lunar eclipse, planets, stars, meteors, and the moon. Wings holding classrooms, computer laboratory, offices, and gift shop project to the east and south of the circular main body.