Once one of the main producers of gold in the world, the town of Lead, South Dakota, with its Homestake mine, is now the site of one of the most advanced experiments in particle physics ever undertaken. Nearly 5,000 feet underground, the Sanford Underground Research Facility is attempting to understand the properties of elusive neutrino particles and dark matter.
To allow for educational programs, as well as provide a space in which the scientists themselves could gather outside of the laboratory, Portland, Oregon–based Dangermond Keane Architecture was called in to design the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center. Situated at the very edge of the mine near Lead’s small downtown, the Visitor Center functions as an exhibition space to present the history of the mine and the town, and to explain the experiments happening directly below. Spaces are set aside for lectures and classes, as well as a gift shop to support the exhibit maintained by the Lead Chamber of Commerce. The exhibit itself was designed by C&G Partners and includes a 3-D printed and laser-cut model of the mine. Dangermond Keane has also continued a collaboration with ARUP engineers to design and develop the underground laboratory spaces.