Lord, Aeck & Sargent worked with the National Park Service to develop a new visitor center for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The facility includes exhibit space reflecting the heritage and development of the Parkway, as well as spaces for regional orientation and visitor information. A digital-immersive theater showing High Definition film of the Parkway is a feature attraction.
The Visitor Center serves the Asheville area, the mountain regions of Western North Carolina and the nearly 11 million yearly visitors who enter the Parkway, which runs from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Nestled into a hill, the building evokes a ‘tree-house-like’ atmosphere that allows visitors to experience the majestic vistas and surrounding woodlands for which the Parkway is known.
The Visitor Center is a showcase for sustainable design, incorporating a green roof, natural ventilation, day-lighting, trombe walls and other passive solar strategies. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling, daylight modeling and thermal analysis were utilized to optimize the building’s performance. The Center is currently targeting LEED Gold Certification.
The design team used Sketchup through the design process to study massing options for the building. The Sketchup model was especially useful in examining different shading options – critical to the passive design process. Later on, the Sketchup model was exported directly to the thermal modeling software (RADTherm and N-Phase).
Case study submitted by Vikram Sami, LEED AP
Photography copyright Jonathan Hillyer, Atlanta GA ©