News from above the pit

16 June 2008

Construction for the extension to the control room at Point 1

With no more access for visitors to underground areas when the LHC will be switched on, CERN is re-organising its public outreach strategy, in which ATLAS plays an important role. The construction work that started in front of the SCX1 building at Point 1 last week will provide additional space for the control room, as well as transform the building into a multi-purpose visitor area.

As part of the global CERN public outreach plan, the modifications to the building will connect the Globe to the ATLAS Control Room, allowing visitors to see scientists working in real time but without disturbing their work: “We are very grateful with ATLAS for helping us making it possible to continue bringing visitors to CERN to see science in action,” says James Gillies, head of communications at CERN.  “To show a real experiment in operation from the control room is a very good way to do it,” he adds.

The visitors program at CERN is very successful. Only last year, it attracted more than 26,000 people, and the numbers are growing. Surveys among visitors repeatedly indicate that they really appreciate seeing real science happening at CERN and, above everything, the interaction with scientists: “Even if access to the undergrounds are closed, we are a real lab so this is something that we can still offer and most science exhibition centres don’t,” James explains.

The very special location of the ATLAS detector just next to the Globe, soon the main CERN visitors centre, makes ATLAS an ideal opportunity for CERN’s new strategy of displaying its activities to the world: “You can easily walk across from the Globe to ATLAS. I hope we can showcase the other experiments as well but ATLAS has the geography on its side,” he says.

For this reason, a new specific access route from the Globe to ATLAS will be built. Also, the car park in front of the SCX1 building will become a green area, so both ATLAS members and visitors will enjoy a nice relaxing environment as they leave  the control room building. An additional parking space will be provided nearby at Point 1 to compensate for the changes in front of SCX1.

Communications platform

The SCX1 building is there of course to run ATLAS but the modification will also offer a visible and important communication platform for ATLAS: “It will house a press point to facilitate the job of journalists, with equipment for audio and video interviews and shooting facilities to broadcast information on the state of the experiment everyday,” says Juliette Davenne, the CERN exhibition designer who is involved in finding the optimal use for every square meter of the building.

Also, a small interactive ATLAS-specific exhibition will be located in the SCX1 building:  “The exhibition will be a new way to look at ATLAS, something original and fun,” Juliette explains.

“But I want to avoid the zoo effect,” she adds, “So I want ATLAS people to be involved in the concept of the exhibits – this exhibition is their exhibition!” she adds.

ATLAS management is also actively involved and collaborating with CERN in the transformation of the area.

Cristina Jimenez

ATLAS e-News