After leading the master planning efforts for the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Lord, Aeck & Sargent designed two built environments at the site.
Comprising approximately 25 acres of the 120-acre site along the Chattahoochee River, the project includes a 10,000 sf museum and outdoor pavilion. The Discovery Center Museum will include a two-level exhibit hall featuring both permanent and changing exhibits focusing on stewardship, conservation and education; a theater/classroom that seats 65 people; a lobby; and support spaces, such as offices and catering facilities. The building will also have a rooftop terrace that provides views of the river and surrounding landscape.
The Discovery Pavilion, an outdoor space for educational programs and special events, will provide 3,600 sf of covered space and a 2,000 sf deck, in addition to restrooms and a catering kitchen. Site improvements include a revised entry sequence, as well as integrating the buildings into the landscape while creating an accessible path through a steep site to the building.
Given the center’s mission of protecting the Chattahoochee River, measures to protect the river were a key sustainable design focus for the project. Natural stormwater management features were used throughout to reduce and treat stormwater. Constructed wetlands capture and filter runoff from the site. Roof runoff is harvested in cisterns for use in toilet flushing and minimal site irrigation. A majority of the site is landscaped with a native plant palette requiring no irrigation. Energy efficiency measures include a vegetated occupiable roof, daylighting, improved thermal envelope and high-efficiency HVAC equipment. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is currently targeting LEED Gold Certification with the U.S. Green Building Council.
This project went through a number of design iterations examining different building skin options. Sketchup’s material mapping options were used extensively to study the different options. The project is unique in the sense that the building interacts with the landscape and topography. The architecture team as well as the landscape team both used the Sketchup model as a design, planning and communication tool. The design team also made use of some of the many useful Ruby script plug-ins to create skin elements like curtain walls. As always, the Sketchup model was used to study shading options for the building.
Case study submitted by Vikram Sami, LEED AP