Living
Computers

With interactive exhibits in a fun, friendly environment, the Living Computers Museum + Labs is creating the next generation of technologists in Seattle.

The Living Computers Museum + Labs, established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, not only preserves and displays working vintage computers, it also aims to make technology fun and accessible to the public. With its 2016 renovation and expansion, the museum wanted to reach a wider audience to round out STEM education and encourage kids — especially girls — to pursue careers in technology.

In collaboration with interior architect Tiscareno Associates and exhibit designer Curious Beast, NBBJ was tasked with shaping the experience of the museum: how people enter, move through the building and encounter the exhibits.

On the first floor, visitors gain hands-on experience in robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), convolutional neural networks, Big Data, self-driving cars, digital art and more. Where possible, surprise and delight were brought to the interaction design — for instance, robots controlled not by joystick but by capacitive text that responds when visitors touch “Left” or “Right.”

Meanwhile, a mezzanine level offers exhibits on the Internet of Things (IoT) and game-making, and the second floor contains the museum’s vintage computer collection.

By focusing on the overall user experience, NBBJ helped unify the interior design, environmental graphics, casework, wall text, digital displays and interactive components into a cohesive, immersive encounter with computer technology.