- Area : 14000 ft²
- Year : 2012
Photographs :Brad Feinknopf
- Designer : Michael Bongiorno
- Project Architect, Sustainability Manager : William Keoni Fleming
- Project Associate : Joseph Mayer
- Specifications Manager : Tracy Van Niel
- Civil Engineer, Landscape Architect : EMH&T
- City : Galloway
- Country : United States
Text description provided by the architects. The Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Nature Center is a 14,000 SF visitors’ center for Metro Parks’ largest park, the 7,000 acre Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The Nature Center serves as an educational and interpretive building for visitors to cultivate their knowledge of the park’s diverse ecosystems. At the heart of the building is a 53-foot long living stream, which reproduces the riparian habitats found within the park, and other interactive exhibits which encourage engagement by visitors with the natural world around them.
The building is located amidst native Ohio prairie at the edge of a knoll overlooking the park’s bison enclosure to the south. The building was carefully placed to stay out of the boundaries of the Darby Watershed Accord, which governs development adjacent to the Darby watershed.
The primary challenge faced by the design team was how to place a building in a unique and fragile natural setting. Consequently, the team pursued the design of a building that reduces its own impact, physically, visually, and environmentally. The building recedes into the landscape, allowing the visitor to focus on the building’s surroundings, rather than the building itself. From the north, only the high roof of the building’s porch and main lobby is visible. As one approaches closer to the building, the porch frames the view of the bison enclosure and tree-lined horizon beyond the building. Recessed into the hillside, only a single story is visible from the north; it is only from the south that one sees the full two-stories of the Nature Center. Galvanized corrugated steel siding is the primary exterior siding material, a nod to the area’s earlier history as farmland.
A green roof planted with native vegetation minimizes the building’s impact upon the landscape, and as proof Metro Parks’ has observed birds nesting on the roof this past spring. Stormwater runoff from both the building and parking lots are channeled into a series of bioswales and wetlands planted with native species.
The building employs the principles of climate-responsive design, including proper orientation for passive solar gain in the winter and shading in the summer, the use of operable windows for natural ventilation, a highly-insulated building envelope (double the R-value required by code), and the use of geothermal ground-source heat pumps. The building is anticipated to require half the energy of a conventional building of similar use and size. The Nature Center is pursuing LEED Silver certification.