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Birmingham-Southern College launches high-tech “Geodome” experience

Birmingham-Southern College launches high-tech “Geodome” experience

For Immediate Release
Jan. 29, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College has a new life planned for its well-known planetarium.

Photo of planetariumThe Meyer Planetarium at BSC, which was an integral part of Birmingham's fabric until it closed in 2009, will be reborn this year as a high-tech video presentation of Alabama’s natural wonders. The college’s Southern Environmental Center (SEC), which has designed, created, and found funding for the project, hopes to open the new Geodome Visual Arts Theatre in the spring of 2018.

The Geodome will be the first of its kind in Alabama, and will be utilized by as many as 10,000 schoolchildren and community organizations that currently visit the SEC’s Interactive Museum and EcoScape Garden on campus, said SEC Director Roald Hazelhoff.

“We are excited to offer area children and others this incredible new resource for learning about Alabama’s geography, ecology, and place on the planet,” Hazelhoff said.  “This is a great way for BSC to fulfill its mission of encouraging all members of our community to engage with the wider world and for the SEC to take its educational outreach to the next level.”

Inspired in part by immersive experiences like the Soarin’ ride at Disney’s Epcot Center, the Geodome will use interactive 4K videos that blend GIS mapping, drone footage, and more to allow visitors to travel from Birmingham to the Gulf of Mexico along Alabama’s waterways to learn more about the state’s ecology without leaving their stadium seats. Another focus will be on educating school children on their local geography, an important factor in weather and emergency awareness, Hazelhoff said. 

Inside the building, the former star chamber will be reconfigured into a 46-seat theater. High resolution 4k equipment will project on a giant floating screen, with sound provided by an IMAX-quality sound system.

Future plans call for an indoor-outdoor event venue and a lower level virtual classroom. The SEC plans to draw on the work of BSC students—especially those majoring in Media and Film Studies, Urban Environmental Studies, Education, and Creative and Applied Computing—to enrich the program.

The Geodome was created with generous funding from a number of donors, including EBSCO Industries, Elton Stephens Jr., the Stephens Foundation, the Robert Meyer Foundation, and Margaret (Peggy) Monaghan. Its launch comes as Birmingham-Southern celebrates “100 Years on the Hilltop,” a commemoration of the 1918 merger of the college’s two parent schools in Birmingham.

To learn more about visiting the Geodome, visit

About Birmingham-Southern College:

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls some 1,300 students from more than 34 states and 9 foreign countries. Learn more online at

About the Southern Environmental Center:

The Southern Environmental Center (SEC) is the largest educational facility of its kind in Alabama, dedicated to showing individuals how they can protect and improve their local environments. Its programs include the award-winning Interactive Museum and the Hugh Kaul EcoScape garden on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College, its EcoScape program is nationally recognized as a model for urban revitalization; and the SEC co-manages the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, home to three federally endangered species of fish.