Center Sky

This is an observatory visitor/teaching center located at the Mount Lemmon Observatory complex in Arizona.

The ‘Center Sky’ observatory, was designed for the 2017 Stewardson Competition. My unique take on the prompt lead me to create a smaller observatory in order to create a more profound visitor experience. I modeled my project many people’s first experience with telescopes, standing around one in a dark field with full view of the sky. The point of my solution was to draw a parallel between the telescope’s deep space and what you can see with your eye. This vital connection would have been lost under a typical dome structure. A full project description may be found at the bottom of the page.



VR View from entrance click here.


VR View from Seats click here.


VR View from Telescope click here.


Competition Submission Material |


Project Statement

There is something awe inspiring about simply laying out under the Great Dome of the Cosmos. A thing that can only be felt, not through a picture or on a screen but by being under the staggering expanse of the night sky without distraction. The ‘Center Sky’ observatory seeks to provide a place to feel the expanse of our Universe. This observatory is designed to feel small, drawing that sharp contrast between the scale of a person, and the endlessness above. Center Sky gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the stunning immensity by keeping them out under the stars, not sheltered away in a metal dome. The smaller telescope removes the need for an obstructive dome and allows for a telescope that can be operated without the need for bright screens, while still retaining most of the stellar tracking features and professional grade imaging. Visitors start at Sunset Ring, viewing the western sky, then gradually shift to the Center Sky Theater as the light fades, where they can recline and take in the glory of this Dark Sky park. The mirror finished seats are carefully designed to give visitors a comfortable view of the telescope or, with a tilt of the head, an uninterrupted view of the Cosmos. The seats are also equipped with weak heaters, preventing snow buildup, and minimizing the distractions the cold can have on a night of stargazing. The seats are enclosed in a ring of grass to cut off the earthly horizon, cut down on wind, and to add a comforting natural element to the other-worldly space. The design also helps the telescope be central to the experience. Visitors can take-in the night sky while they wait for an opportunity to use the telescope. Then, without having to go inside or readjust their eyes, visitors can get a deeper look through the 20-inch telescope. The Sky Center already possesses world class facilities for science, astronomer residences, and administrative facilities. This new facility should seek to fill in that last, most basic, most human need: a quiet place to contemplate that vastness of space.