The spectacular design by architectural firm Bernhardt + Partner (Darmstadt) mirrors the shape and the dynamics of a spiral galaxy. The spiral arms are home to seminar rooms, an exhibition space and offices. Construction on the Königstuhl hill in Heidelberg was completed in late 2011.
The "galactic center" hosts a lecture theatre with 100 seats, while a Zeiss digital planetarium system is used to show astronomical observations and simulations alike. Heating and cooling is achieved using geothermal bore-holes and heat-pumps.
An observation platform for smaller telescopes on the grounds of the neighbouring Landessternwarte (the old state observatory, now part of Heidelberg University) is used for observations with pupils as well as public observing nights.