Snow King Mountain Observatory is the vision of Astronomer Dr. Samuel Singer, created in 2014. When Dr. Singer met Jakub Galczynski in 2015, the two partnered to design Snow King Mountain Observatory of Jackson Wyoming. Dr. Singer would spend years promoting this work through his non-profit Wyoming Stargazing. In parallel, Galczynski worked on several design schemes and studied observatory construction methods best suited for Snow King Observatory. The project was presented at public events at Grand Teton National Park, Rendezvous Park, Center for the Arts, Snow King Mountain Resort, Town of Jackson, and etc. In 2021, the Town of Jackson approved Snow King's Master Plan which included the Snow King Observatory. At the time, Galczynski worked for Farmer Payne Architects. Shortly after the project was contracted, Galczynski separated from the team. He would go on to design, draft, and manage the Construction Documents for Snow King Mountain Observatory. He was later asked to lead the Interior Design and Curate the associated exhibits.
Project Design, Construction Documents, Project Manager, and Interior Design : GAŁCZYNSKI
Structural Engineer : Jeffrey Hobson PE , Tectonic Design
MEP : Joe Serre PE, Charlie Joy PE, Sami Sanderson EIT, Katie Sanderson EIT, Energy-1
Civil Engineer : Dave Dufault PE , Nelson Engineering
SKMR Master Plan : Benno Nager , Alpine Resort Consulting
Construction & Equipment Design Team :
General Contractor : Chris Lamorena , Greg Hostert , Ormond Builders
Planetarium : Chris Wright , SPITZ Planetarium
Telescope : Planewave Telescope
One Big Environmental Initiative :
The main purpose of the Snow King Mountain Observatory is public education. The astronomy observatory is easily accessed from the Town of Jackson and specifically not on the outskirts of town, to maximize outreach. Snow King Observatory serves to educate visitors on astronomy and dark sky initiatives concerning mountain town development. In contrast to many research observatories, we saw potential in developing an iconic observatory that would visitors and serve as a social space. Snow King Mountain Observatory was designed with a biophilic approach, in both program and building design. There were many decisions made with sustainability in mind, although not all could be implemented. Many sustainable strategies doubled to directly benefit the function of an astronomy observation. As the project looks to celebrate our solar system, it also promotes the protection of our planet.
Responsive Lighting :
Asignificant component of the building regards observatory function and environmental initiative. By minimizing exterior lighting we are avoiding light pollution which interferes with the telescope's ability to observe a truly dark sky. We are also having less impact on the surrounding habitat and cutting down on building energy associated. The observatory hopes to inspire how the community of Jackson might function. Beyond local, the observatory looks to educate national and global visitors about responsible lighting. Interior lighting design will also support a dark sky theme, lighting only where and when needed. There will be an exhibit item within the Observatory that will educate on light pollution's effect on the ecosystem, building energy use, preserving the night sky, and etc. This is not typical of astronomy-based exhibits, which primarily focus on the Solar System.
Responsive Roof :
The top membrane of the roof is white to reflect solar heat and reduce energy use, during the Summer months. This prevents the roof from emitting heat waves at night, which distorts telescope visibility.
Responsive Framing :
The exterior consists of double-stud walls that are staggered. By not having the studs touch, we are increasing our thermal insulation values and reducing sound travel to the outdoors. Energy and sound escape more readily through framing that is aligned and touching. Since there will be two theater spaces within the Observatory, we are being considerate of outdoor naturalists that share this outdoor space. The intent is to contribute to existing Snow King Mountain nature observation activities.
Snow King Mountain Observatory was designed to disappear. People have told me that the building is difficult to locate and that is humorously intentional. This is not a small building, but if you stand at the base of the hill the roof line remains hidden. The building became concerningly tall when the Planetarium was incorporated, but Galczynski didn't want it to ever 'feel' tall. Galczynski didn't want the mass to overpower the hill. First, he elongated the roof to have it read as a horizontal plane. Secondly, Galczynski decided to design an embedded roof deck, unique to the building, that would prevent the building from being much taller.