The National Park Service kicked off the New Year by breaking ground on their Twin Creeks Science and Education Center. The First-of-its-kind facility will support all of the Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI); an initiative to document all of the life forms within the , enabling scientists to make educated decisions about protecting and preserving the park’s precious ecosystem. The 15,000 square-foot facility will not only house research laboratories, but will also play host to a curatorial space for specimens collection, and a teaching space for students. As part of the National Park Service’s project mission, they have adopted the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system, and is targeting LEED Certification upon its completion this fall.
While designing a facility with the flexibility to accommodate continually changing research activities, Architects Lord, Aeck & Sargent also managed to integrate a highly efficient daylight-harvesting design, multiple energy and water efficiency strategies including ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures, waterless urinals, high-efficiency lighting, and natural ventilation. Use of a parametric thermal analysis helped make sure the design optimized building performance efficiency. Further emphasis was placed on selecting materials with recycled content. In addition to the emphasis placed on the building, an electrical vehicle recharging station has been planed on-site.
The Twin Creeks Science and Educatio Center provides not only a research and education center, but an opportunity to build interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers – taxonomists, biologists, botanists, and ecologist from the National Park Service; other govnerment agencies; and partner colleges, universities, and museums. As stated by Keth, Langdon, the park’s supervisory biologist, The Twin Creeks Science and Education Centr will dramatically increase our ability to discover, understand, and protect the more than 100,000 species throught to be living in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.