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Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum

Reader & Swartz Architects


  • Beth Reader
  • Jeff Boehm


  • Howard Shockey & Sons

Project Status



Award Winners

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Project Description

With considerable square footage and limited funds, transforming a utilitarian commercial building into an interactive children’s museum for a local nonprofit group was a substantial task. Built in the 1940s as a furniture store and most recently used for a church and offices, the building was had been chopped into many small rooms with sparse architectural detail.

To create a lively space that would suit its new mission, architect Beth Reader gave the structure a top-to-bottom overhaul. The interior was almost entirely gutted to create open space for hands-on museum exhibits. A new glass garage door enhances the appearance and functionality of the front façade, while bright colors and artwork on both the interior and exterior add vibrancy and whimsy to the design.

For one of the most dramatic transformations, however, visitors need to look up: The project team installed a multi-dimensional roof terrace onto the previously unoccupied space, complete with assorted colorful pavilions and sculptural sun shades. On the roof deck, guests can explore additional exhibits, participate in educational programs, host social events, or simply enjoy the view of historic downtown Winchester and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

See the video on how Reader & Swartz Architects and Howard Shockey & Sons transformed this ordinary downtown building into a vibrant, lively education destination for children and families.


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