Planetarium and Science Center (FPSC), originally built as a public research facility of the Desert Research Institute, has attracted nearly two million visitors since its opening in 1963. The uniquely shaped building, listed on the national register of historic places, was constructed around large panels of an early large-scale solar energy system designed by forward-thinking Reno architect Ray Hellman. Those initial ideas of renewable energy and sustainability have been revived through new solar electric and wind turbine installations on site, as well as updating the original components. FPSC has inspired countless students through field trips, and engaged the public through decades of planetarium programming, free observatory facilities, and exhibits.
FPSC is Northern Nevada's only venue specializing in space, astronomy, and related fields. The building contains three basic components: a newly-renovated 60-seat Star Theater housing a digital planetarium and large-format film system, a 3000 sq. ft. Exhibit Hall with both permanent and changing exhibits, and an extensive Science Store, as well as a classroom and fabrication areas. FPSC serves the university, from undergraduate to graduate students and faculty as a technological resource, and it serves the larger community as a public science education nexus. FPSC attracts a high number of visitors to the university campus: up to 15,000 K-12 students per year through field trip programs, 20,000 residents from Northern Nevada, and 20,000 out-of-state tourists.