Bohlin Cywinski Jackson - Environmental Education/Visitor Activity Center, National Park Service, in Pennsylvania Print
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 08:07

Designed to focus on environmental learning activities, the Visitor Activity Center is a remarkable building that hosts an open space designed for gathering, dining, meetings, lectures.

BCJ_visitor_center_06A key building feature is the use of reused, recycled or recyclable materials. Materials were selected that were durable, had long life spans, required little maintenance and had a low impact on the environment. Another building feature is the shingle cladding of the north façade seen as one approaches the building. These shingles, cut on site from old, discarded tires reclaimed from a nearby river, park grounds and other local sources, directly challenge users to think about environmental responsibility.
The Architect detailed how the Visitor Activity Center is focused on sustainable design, through Careful siting and orientation, thorough research, selection of materials, analysis and design of building systems.

Site Plan
Floor_planFloor Plan


In winter, building mass minimizes impact of prevailing winter winds. South-facing fenestration with long east/west orientation maximizes heat gain. The tinted thermal mass concrete slab provides passive solar heat. Roof profile maximizes solar penetration.

In summer, south roof overhang and East/west porches minimizes solar penetration. Low operable windows on east and west sides draw in cool air from shaded porches. High operable windows on the south elevation exhaust warm air from the building. Glazed south, east and west faces of the main space provide abundant natural daylight and connect users to the forest beyond.

BCJ_visitor_center_04BCJ_visitor_center_05The Visitor Activity Center is one of three projects that were awarded the 2009 CAE Educational Facility Design Award in the Excellence category. As explained by the architects: “It was designed to reflect its non-profit and governmental sponsor's commitment to the ideals of environmental stewardship”.

BCJ_visitor_center_08Approach view from north showing rubber shingle cladding fabricated from discarded tires
Detail of tire shingle wall, a great example of material reuse.

Photographs by Nic Lehoux, Christopher Barone, and THomas E. Solon, AIA.
All photographs and illustrations, as well as partial content are courtesy of the AIA

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:15