A beautiful new avian observatory has popped up in a popular bird sanctuary near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Built by a team of graduate architecture students from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, this "reverse camouflage" bird blind was designed to give visitors a stylish and nonintrusive way to study bird populations along the Mississippi Migratory Flyway. Clad in feather-like aluminum panels, the viewing blind was designed and built as part of the school's annual digital fabrication studio.
Washington University’s school of architecture teamed up with the Audubon Center at Riverlands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Rivers Project Office to design and construct the bird blind using digital fabrication technology. Situated along the edge of Heron Pond, the avian observatory overlooks a managed wetland with a diverse migratory bird population that includes trumpeter swans, great blue herons, bald eagles, and pelicans.
Covered in overlapping black and tan aluminum panels with red and turquoise accents, the dynamic structure helps conceal birdwatchers from birds passing overhead. Diagonal cutouts allow people of different heights to comfortably and discreetly study wildlife. Clad in black perforated aluminum, the interior also includes a gathering space and seating for educational use. Part of the blind is cantilevered on one end to offer expansive views across the pond. In the event of flooding, the structure can be disassembled and relocated to higher ground.