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2014 - Present

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona


Centre image: David Eicher, Publisher of Astronomy Magazine, Dr. David DeVorkin, Senior Curator of Space History - Smithsonian Institution, Ian McLennan, Lowell Observatory consultant, and fellow Canadian, astronomer Dr. Michael West, Deputy Director of Science, Lowell Observatory. Ian and Michael West first met when working together on the Imiloa Astronomy Center project in Hilo, Hawaii. 
 

With his consulting partner Bill Peters and exhibition design guru Juan Tanus (Kei Space Design, North Vancouver), Ian has conducted a multi-year strategic plan for this venerable institution – where Pluto was discovered in 1930 and proof of the expanding universe was first confirmed. The consulting team has been working with Lowell’s CEO, Dr. Jeffrey Hall as well as Dr. Michael West, Samantha Gorney, Lisa Actor (Lowell’s fund-raising director), architects Tim Whiteside (JWA Architects) and Bill Chomik (Kasian) – and David Sawyer, on-site project manager. Together, they have established a long-term strategic plan – which includes a new open deck public observing facility (Giovale Open Deck Observatory – now under construction), the Astronomy Discovery Center (ADC) – complete with the Lowell Universe Theatre featuring the latest in advanced data visualization, and a Dark-Sky (open-deck) Planetarium on the ADC roof-top. The strategic, interpretative and master plans include upgraded public facilities on the observatory campus, and merchandising & food services as well as improvements to way-finding, parking, and all aspects of the public education experience.

Yerkes Observatory and Yerkes Future Foundation, Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Yerkes Observatory, like its Flagstaff counterpart Lowell Observatory, dates back to the late 1800s. It is where the new science of astrophysics was born, and where many of the world’s most famous astronomers worked. For years, it was run by the University of Chicago, but when the university recently decided to terminate its stewardship, a local organization (Yerkes Future Foundation - YFF) was formed to assume that leadership role. On a recommendation of Dr. Jeffrey Hall of Lowell Observatory, YFF turned to Ian McLennan and Bill Peters to establish a strategic master plan for the refurbishment, upgrading and eventual routine operation of the re-imagined Yerkes Observatory. That transition plan is now underway under Bill and Ian’s guidance... working with Ms. Dianna Colman, Chair and one of the key founders of YFF.
Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) IMAX Theatre, Victoria, B.C.
This is one of the world’s most enduring and most successful IMAX theatres – nested within this impressive provincial museum. At a pre-determined juncture in the operating agreement with the off-site theatre management group, the RBCM management and board wished to examine all its future options… So, along with his fellow consultants, Mark B. Peterson and David Hall (EPG, Economic Planning Group), Ian conducted an in-depth analysis of long-term options for the theatre space, and after extensive consultations with the client (especially CFO Melissa Sands), commuting back and forth via Helijet helicopter, a full report was presented outlining a series of options, including financial, architectural, programming and public profile implications. RBCM management is currently examining the full range of options.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory – Very Large Array, Socorro, New Mexico
The huge radio telescope array (VLA) at NRAO in Socorro, New Mexico is the very definition of a project that is “in the middle of nowhere.” Nevertheless, it still receives hundreds of enthusiastic and curious visitors every week – more so since it was featured in the Carl Sagan-inspired movie, Contact. Ian was contracted by NRAO under its then public affairs manager John Stoke to envisage a more sophisticated visitor centre and associated merchandising operation. The team worked with resident manager Laura Barich and a well-known regional architect, and although interim plans assisted the operation significantly, the grand plan was put on hold when John left to pursue other career goals. Ian took advantage of the trips to New Mexico to work with colleagues in Albuquerque, as well as to visit and familiarize himself with the space, astronomy and science fiction sites on the famous “New Mexico Space Trail.”
Pierce College Science Dome, Lakewood, Washington
Ian worked with the campus planning team and astronomy professor/ science dome coordinator Dr. Hillary Stephens on planning options, planetarium format choices and technical specifications – along with architect Bill Chomik of Kasian Design in Calgary. The popular 58 seat theatre is used extensively for Pierce College instruction and club events, public shows, field trips, special events and private showings. 
Science Museum Foundation, Tokyo, Japan
Ian works regularly with his partner, Kaoru Kimura, President-elect of the International Planetarium Society, to enhance astronomy awareness with her students – who, at the same time, wish to practice their English-speaking skills. In consultation with Ms. Kimura whenever he is in Japan, Ian prepares a visual (Keynote) program on a specified topic – usually related to objects that can be observed in the sky at that time. Weather permitting, after the lecture and questions and answering period, the students go out onto the museum’s roof-top observing platform where attention is divided between the spectacular Tokyo sky-line and the celestial target objects.
• ICISE Planetarium Quy Nhon, Vietnam
On the eastern seacoast of Vietnam, on the South China Sea, lies a tropical, jungle paradise… the rapidly developing resort town of Quy Nhon, capital of Binh Dinh province. In this remarkable location, there is a sophisticated scientific conference centre, ICISE – the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Science & Education – founded, along with his energetic wife, by a remarkable French-Vietnamese physicist, Dr. Tran Thanh Van. In 2015, the idea of a planetarium was added to the complex, and Ian was engaged to provide broad, conceptual input to the technical specifications – as well as a preliminary exhibition programme. The planetarium has been constructed, and is being readied now for the technical installation. Ian conducted on-site workshops with input from Steve Savage (Sky-Skan, Inc.), architect Bill Chomik and Vietnamese-Canadian friend Hao Le from Toronto.
• Ft. McMurray Heritage Village, Alberta
When a major flood engulfed the City of Ft. McMurray in Northern Alberta, the community’s beloved heritage village was seriously impacted, causing a multi-year closing and re-building effort. The community took advantage of this dire situation to engage in a re-organization and long-term plan. In 2015, Kei Space Design (Juan Tanus, Michale Lang and Bill Peters) sub-contracted Ian McLennan and David Hall to gather community data, provide advice, and to conduct workshops for the board of directors as an options analysis exercise. The organization’s two main sites, Ft. McMurray Heritage Village and the riverside Marine Park (Heritage Shipyard) Museum are now back in full operation.
• North Vancouver Museum & Archives (NVMA), North Vancouver, B.C.
Ian’s fellow consultants Bill Peters and Juan Tanus are in charge of the major planning and options analysis initiative with this venerable museum, and they engaged Ian to assist with some of the community needs assessment (CNA) interviews. These are in-depth queries designed to determine what the community (through its various sectors and leaders) see as the main needs or aspirations within the community. The idea is then to match the museum planning as closely as possible to meet, address and reflect those needs. Ian’s interviews concentrated mainly on people with historical ties to the museum itself, and included such luminaries as Robin Inglis, David A. Rodger and Dr. Sharon Proctor. NVMA is currently in the process of implementing the plan put forward by the consulting team.
New Planetarium initiatives in Toronto, Ontario
Since the untimely politically motivated closing of the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto, there have been several attempts to encourage a new planetarium which would finally address the woeful lack of a major facility in that city. (Toronto is one of only two major cities in the world without a significant planetarium). At present, there are three possible initiatives, and Ian – along with fellow consultants Bill Peters and Bill Chomik – is involved with (a) Ontario Science Centre (possibly reconfiguring the OMNIMAX theatre or upgrading it to include planetarium/ data visualization possibilities); (b) University of Toronto – which is planning a new Astronomy Building near the UofT downtown campus and which would include a planetarium function; and (c) a major new public planetarium right in the downtown tourism precinct. Retired Canadian diplomat Henry Lotin, along with astronomer Michael Fich, are heading this latter effort – with a blue-ribbon committee covering all the angles required for a successful project. Ian and planetarium-specialist architect Bill Chomik are providing technical assistance.
Britannia Mining Museum, Squamish, British Columbia
For nearly a century, this gigantic mining operation extracted a good percentage of the copper used around the world, especially for electronics. Due to dwindling reserves, the economics of copper mining at this location no longer made sense, but the facility itself has been preserved as a national historic site. Ian was initially engaged by Kirstin Clausen, executive director of the Mining Museum Society, to conduct strategic planning workshops regarding future options for the museum to consider. The museum eventually contracted with Ian's former UN Pavilions partner Randal Ormston (Vista Arts) and is now ready to begin a new public season with greatly increased attendance – and an exciting A/V mixed media show that Randal’s team put together.
Discovery Centre Planetarium, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ian worked as a sub to Phil Aldrich, then co-head of Aldrich/Pears Design in Vancouver as the planetarium specialist, technical consultant on this innovative science centre project in the Nova Scotia capital.