One of the features that will dominate the façade of the new $35 million Missoula Public Library will be a two-story window that will showcase a huge STEM DNA Climbing Structure and research lab.

Project Director and Principle Investigator Holly Truitt described the purpose of the climbing structure.

“You’ll notice that on the west side of the building there’s a huge span of glass that will go from the first to the second floor, and that span of glass will be home to the DNA sculpture climber, so it will really be the backbone of the building,” said Truitt. “It will be kinetic and alive with our next generation climbing and learning. As far as materials that will be used, we are hearing from the community about a love for metal, pops of color and also using wood with it.”

This inclusive project has been funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award.

“It’s truly the result of many years of dreaming, conversation and planning by the university, the city and the Missoula Public Library, as well as the community at large,” she said. “The vision came about with the recognition that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is so vital in getting the next generation excited over health, health research and then, of course, career pathways as something they may do for the rest of their lives.”

Truitt said there will be a co-creation lab at The Public House at 130 East Broadway on Monday afternoon from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for members of the public of all ages and walks of life to imagine the structure and help build a mock-up of the proposed climbing structure.

“Kids will have a chance at this co-creation lab to prototype the DNA climber and  actually start to shape what it might look like,” she said. “They’ll be using three dimensional items. That sounds fancy, but what I mean is cardboard and clay and paint for some vibrant renditions. It will be a very playful, invitational lab space, not like an institutional lab space. It will have an all-glass front so that everyone can see it and a door that welcomes everyone in.”

At the event on Monday evening, Truitt said that Biga Pizza will be provided for all who participate, and she revealed the three challenges that will be presented at the event.

“One will be thinking about the structure and what it might look like,” she said. “Two will be thinking about the lab and what types of experiences might happen in it, and the third is thinking about a name for this beautiful project. That name will actually be voted on and chosen at the end of the session.”

The name will be revealed on KGVO's Montana Morning News Program on Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Project partners include SpectrUM, Empower Place, Missoula City-County Health Department, Missoula Invest Health, University of British Columbia, Stanford D. School, Google, Missoula Food Bank, Arlee Public Schools, Missoula County Public Schools, Missoula Parks and Recreation, UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, UM Health and Medicine, UM School of Psychology and Western Architectural Services.


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