Blessed with a dramatic site on the Ohio River just west of Heinz Field and prominently visible from the Point, the red and gray Carnegie Science Center stands as a guardedly populist temple to science and education. The Center is part of the Carnegie consortium, whose main museum and library stands in Oakland (AL41), but whose Andy Warhol Museum (AL67) lies less than a ten-minute walk away. Tasso Katselas gave the four-story building three major components: Omnimax theater, planetarium and auditorium space, and housing for specialized exhibits, all linked by a system of ramps and staircases to provide visual and physical unity. Somewhat brooding and somber despite color touches in red, the structure's domed Omnimax theater is on the city side, and a glass-skinned atrium and science theater are at the opposite end. Between the two sits the main exhibition block. The entrance is on the land side, reached by a bridge from the parking lot. Busses use a second entrance below the bridge, which also allows direct access to the Omnimax theater.
A certain degree of disorientation seems endemic and possibly useful in science centers, and the lobby and attached atrium of this one do not disappoint, with a large and noisy gift shop, Aquabatics Fountain, and a restaurant overlooking the river. The three upper levels are each devoted to different themes. The interior is at its best with throngs of students climbing and descending its ramps, while the grounds are at their best when peaceful. Science education continues on the Ohio River with the USS Requin, a docked World War II diesel-electric submarine, and a barge that regularly navigates the three rivers as a floating marine laboratory.
In 2018 the Carnegie Science Center opened the PPG Science Center Pavilion, a four-floor, 48,000-square-foot expansion that is LEED-Gold certified. Funded in large part by PPG, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, the expansion includes STEM labs, an exhibit gallery, and an event space, and the building is coated in multiple PPG products, including paints and epoxy.