With the opportunity to build a new facility in Darien’s historic Cherry Lawn Park, the Nature Center encountered community resistance. The architect’s participatory planning and conceptual design workshops provided an important public forum to engage the community, align the town leadership in support of the project, and gain consensus on the best use of the COST PER SQ FT$319.00FEATURED IN2003 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYExhibition Space/GalleriesSUB CATEGORYSpecialized realm.
The image of a New England barn was embraced universally as the most appropriate design for this unique location. It was designed as an authentic two-story timberframe structure using materials indigenous to the area. Joinery celebrates traditional hand craftsmanship. Finishes and materials (especially recycled ones), abundant natural light, and site orientation make a statement about sustainability and stewardship of the natural environment. The structure houses an exhibition gallery, meeting room, natural science library and animal habitat room, which is home to 52 species. On the lower level, four themed interactive children’s program rooms are linked by a common program space of bomanite flooring imprinted with real animal tracks and leaves.
With this new facility, the Nature Center has fulfilled its mission to become a model educational community resource.