SITU Studio collaborated with C&G Partners to design a 17’ long, 12’ tall, 1:1,500 scale model of the Sanford Homestake Mine and Underground Laboratory which serves as the centerpiece of the newly-opened Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center, designed by Dangermond Keane Architects. The underground tunnel system consists of 370 miles of tunnels extending to a depth of 8,000 ft. This enormous complex was the largest gold mine in North America, where Neutrinos were first detected and is now home to an advanced underground research facility. Presenting the scale and complexity of the tunnel system required translating complex 3D survey data into machine code and then careful assembly of hundreds parts that appear to float.
The two primary components of the sculptural model are the tunnel system and the landscape shell. The primary tunnels were fabricated as CNC milled aluminum plates, suspended from stainless steel aircraft cables. Extending between the primary tunnels are sinuous ramps which were 3D printed in SLA resin. The dramatic South Dakota landscape was rendered as a 1 inch thin shell that was CNC milled out of polyurethane foam. The model is framed between two mirror plates allowing visitors to view the piece from above and below. In addition, SITU Fabrication also fabricated and installed the custom 24' beam the model hangs from and the elliptical reader rail surrounding the model.